Midwest Venture introduction

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MisterUptempo

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
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372
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Chicago, IL
A side note on the Venture cars...I have been digging into the Illinois Rail Needs Assessment Report, that was released in July, but I just discovered in the last week. While compiling the report, IDOT, in meetings with stakeholders and during the public comment period, asked what rail projects and improvements each person or entity would like to see addressed by IDOT.

IDOT's own Office of Intermodal Project Implementation mentioned that they would like to order 41 more Venture cars to fully replace all legacy cars within the Midwest fleet. It did not survive the filtering process, but it shows they might be happy enough with the Ventures that they want a bunch more.

The Office of Intermodal Project Implementation also asked that 33 Siemens Charger locomotives be retrofitted with shunt enhancement devices "to increase the reliability of passenger trains activating warning devices at highway-rail grade crossings." Is that the solution arrived at by IDOT, Amtrak, and CN regarding the shunting problems on Illini/Saluki? Anyone know?

They also want 17 Venture cars to be fitted with audio induction loops to assist those who are hard of hearing, as well as looking for funding to restripe all Midwest Chargers. The striping was originally done to match the Nippon-Sharyo bi-levels that never materialized, so now they want the Chargers to match the Ventures.

Unrelated, but IDOT (as mentioned in the CorridorID thread) estimates the cost of full build out of 110MPH CHI-STL at somewhere between $5-7 Billion, and upgrading to 220MPH service would be $12-15 Billion. No idea whether that would be on top of the 5-7 Billion or not.

None of the projects made the final cut, but we get a peek into what's being discussed, anyway.
 

TransitTyrant

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2022
Messages
78
Location
Chicago
A side note on the Venture cars...I have been digging into the Illinois Rail Needs Assessment Report, that was released in July, but I just discovered in the last week. While compiling the report, IDOT, in meetings with stakeholders and during the public comment period, asked what rail projects and improvements each person or entity would like to see addressed by IDOT.

IDOT's own Office of Intermodal Project Implementation mentioned that they would like to order 41 more Venture cars to fully replace all legacy cars within the Midwest fleet. It did not survive the filtering process, but it shows they might be happy enough with the Ventures that they want a bunch more.

The Office of Intermodal Project Implementation also asked that 33 Siemens Charger locomotives be retrofitted with shunt enhancement devices "to increase the reliability of passenger trains activating warning devices at highway-rail grade crossings." Is that the solution arrived at by IDOT, Amtrak, and CN regarding the shunting problems on Illini/Saluki? Anyone know?

They also want 17 Venture cars to be fitted with audio induction loops to assist those who are hard of hearing, as well as looking for funding to restripe all Midwest Chargers. The striping was originally done to match the Nippon-Sharyo bi-levels that never materialized, so now they want the Chargers to match the Ventures.

Unrelated, but IDOT (as mentioned in the CorridorID thread) estimates the cost of full build out of 110MPH CHI-STL at somewhere between $5-7 Billion, and upgrading to 220MPH service would be $12-15 Billion. No idea whether that would be on top of the 5-7 Billion or not.

None of the projects made the final cut, but we get a peek into what's being discussed, anyway.
The only thing regarding the IL Rail Needs Assessment is that projects already funded and supposedly in planning like Rockford, Moline, and CN improvements were declined? Maybe that’s why? Also ordering more Ventures is a guarantee if they get service expansions and more round trips on routes like the Wolverine and Lincoln Service. The locomotives will also require rehabs wether the IL Needs Assessment recommends it or not.

Amtrak recently was testing shunts on the CN line and they could be installed on locomotives within the next few months. The 2nd round trip likely won’t return until then.
 

GDRRiley

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Joined
Sep 16, 2022
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SF bay/LA
IDOT's own Office of Intermodal Project Implementation mentioned that they would like to order 41 more Venture cars to fully replace all legacy cars within the Midwest fleet. It did not survive the filtering process, but it shows they might be happy enough with the Ventures that they want a bunch more.
interesting California was looking at 4 more 7 car sets but those seem almost certainly not happening given our options for FLIRTs.
I believe caltrans wants to avoid high floor cars from now on so maybe if the FLIRTS work out then IODT can get some of our ventures at a later day.

Feels like they should order enough for an expansion not just enough to replace the existing ones.
 

MisterUptempo

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Jul 1, 2014
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The only thing regarding the IL Rail Needs Assessment is that projects already funded and supposedly in planning like Rockford, Moline, and CN improvements were declined? Maybe that’s why? Also ordering more Ventures is a guarantee if they get service expansions and more round trips on routes like the Wolverine and Lincoln Service. The locomotives will also require rehabs wether the IL Needs Assessment recommends it or not.

Amtrak recently was testing shunts on the CN line and they could be installed on locomotives within the next few months. The 2nd round trip likely won’t return until then.
Agreed that since Quad Cities/Rockford service and IC mainline improvements have secured funding is the likely reason they did not make the cut.

In addition to more Ventures, IDOT OIPI wants to expand the fleet of Chargers, as well as establish a fund for locomotive fleet overhauls.

The criteria used to determine which projects moved forward (increasing freight and/or passenger rail capacity, improving economic conditions, fair distribution of funding across the state, environmental justice, etc.) likely meant a fund for loco overhauls did not score high. That's not to say they won't get the necessary funding. It's just setting up a maintenance fund likely wouldn't have met the goals of the Needs Assessment.
 

jis

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MODERATOR'S NOTE: A large number of posts about food service and vending machines etc. have been moved to its own thread at:


Please continue the food service, cafe and vending machines discussion in the new thread, and leave this thread to discuss Midwest (and not California) Venture cars. There is a California equipment thread to discuss California Venture and other sets. Any food service post in this thread after this note will be removed, unless it has direct connection to Midwest Venture introduction.

Thank you for you understanding, cooperation and participation.
 

rs9

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Dec 26, 2021
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Chicago
This article is paywalled, and only offers vague information, but here goes in regard to the business class cars. One quote I was able to find from the story:

"Over the next year, the passenger rail company is adding railcars with 36 business-class seats to its pool of trains shared by Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin."


So...not sure that gives us much except that there might actually be somewhat of a timeline for these cars to come online.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
850
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
Just made a trip to the Ann Arbor station to see 353 - it’s running all Horizons. Want to head back there to see 352 at some point this week to get an idea of if any of the consists have Ventures. They could also be the withdrawn consist of 350/355, which should return next Monday.
 

moselman66

Train Attendant
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May 28, 2021
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35
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Milwaukee
I asked this question earlier. Does anyone know when the venture cars will operate on the Milwaukee line?

For what it's worth the Hiawatha finally appears to be getting a 5th coach car during the week. Not sure if they have stopped at five for now or if they have gone back to (pre-COVID) 6 coaches. But given so many trains sold out or > 90% over the past several months the added capacity is welcome.

I've not seen anything other than Horizon or Amfleet so no word on Venture, but perhaps their presence is at least allowing more capacity again on CHI-MKE.
 

Trogdor

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For what it's worth the Hiawatha finally appears to be getting a 5th coach car during the week. Not sure if they have stopped at five for now or if they have gone back to (pre-COVID) 6 coaches. But given so many trains sold out or > 90% over the past several months the added capacity is welcome.

I've not seen anything other than Horizon or Amfleet so no word on Venture, but perhaps their presence is at least allowing more capacity again on CHI-MKE.

The 5th car is the cafe car. Back in pre-COVID times, the cafe car provided surge capacity for 330/332/337/339 (it was closed at other times, because otherwise Amtrak would have to consistently staff an extra assistant conductor for a revenue train that long). It may have also provided WiFi capability (originally, the cabbage cars were the WiFi brain cars for the Hiawatha, but I don’t know if that is still the case or not).

Not being a regular on that train during peak times, I don’t know if the cafe is just there for WiFi purposes or if they actually open it up to passengers, but given the inconsistency with which the cabbages have been on-again, off-again on the Hiawatha consists in recent months, they might be there just for the WiFi even if the cabbage still has the modems working.
 

Bob Dylan

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There is no Food or Drink on the Hiawathas. There used to be an Attendant that Sold Snacks and Drinks from a Cart similar to the Airline Service Ones, but that was discontinued as a Cost cutting Measure by the Bean Counters!🤬
 
Joined
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I rode in a cafe/business class car once or twice on the Hiawatha. The car was not crowded so I self-upgraded. The conductor just scanned my ticket. I am not sure that I could get away with this everytime this car is used.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
850
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
Just saw Wolverine 352(17) in Ann Arbor. It was delayed over 2 hours due to a freight train dropping equipment and having to go back and retrieve it (twice! on a line owned by MDOT!). The Thruway bus to Toledo arrived while waiting for 352 - I heard the station agent talking with the driver and on the phone regarding whether to hold it, as a 352 passenger was connecting to it. Ultimately it was not held, and it sounded like they were probably going to arrange an Uber for said passenger (who was connecting to 48 - I pity them with that layover).

I was at the station mainly to observe the consist and get video - nearly left during each of the two delays, only for the train to start moving again. Once the train arrived, I somehow pressed the wrong button and did not get video. Alas, it wouldn’t have been that interesting anyway, as 352(17), just like 353(17) earlier, was using all Horizon coaches. Given that, we can say that as of now, Ventures are not being used on the Wolverine. That’s definitely disappointing, as I wanted to take a trip in part to ride them.

With that said, I am wondering - what happened to the Venture consist that was being used on the Wolverine previously? Is it the consist used by 350/355 that was taken out of service, or was it reallocated to the Pere Marquette (which started running Ventures recently) or another train altogether?
 
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