New Amtrak Proposed Routes Map has Dropped

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tim49424

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It’s kind of disappointing to me not to see a direct connection from Grand Rapids to Detroit or any other expansion in the state of Michigan, other than the proposed Detroit to Toledo service. Not surprising just disappointing.
 

John Bredin

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Some interesting "flights of fancy" there.
Without googling for existing plans to support every light-blue line on the map, I'm fairly sure they're all rail plans that have been approved at some level (environmental impact statement, etc.) so not strictly speaking flights of fancy. If it really was flights of fancy, they've been too conservative (in the non-political sense). Why end at Iowa City instead of Des Moines or Omaha? Because that's as far as the planning's gone. Why not a southern tier Montana line? Because no plans exist yet.

Some have been funded in whole or part (Moline, Ethan Allen to Burlington), some are in the process of being funded (Mobile, Christiansburg, Vermonter to Montreal, light-blue between Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul), and some are plans that have gathered little but dust. Money can fix the last problem. :)
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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For the most part, this map seems to have good coverage but not necessarily good connectivity. For example, Atlanta has five new corridor routes but no service to Florida or Chicago. Pueblo gains service to Denver, but still doesn't have a connection to the SWC. There are also three new separate routes in eastern Pennsylvania that don't interact with each other. The one major exception to this trend is the connection between Oklahoma City and Newton.

Another interesting observation from this map is the Canadian services. There was speculation on this forum of the Maple Leaf not coming back after the pandemic (it is also the only route I can find that is not in the booking system for the entirety of the next 11 months). Not only is that still on this map, but it indicates increased service and the addition of Toronto to Chicago service. Adirondack and Cascades service would be increased, with a new route also being added to Montreal along the Vermonter route that appears to be separate from the existing Vermonter.

Have all of these routes actually been studied? Most of them are familiar, but a few I have never seen plans for. For example, the Green Bay, Eau Claire, and Montgomery services.
 

IndyLions

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For the most part, this map seems to have good coverage but not necessarily good connectivity. For example, Atlanta has five new corridor routes but no service to Florida or Chicago.
If they gain connectivity with the Silvers in Savannah the Florida connection wouldn’t be bad - although not as good as Atlanta to Jacksonville.

I do agree with you on the lack of a Chicago connection though. That would provide a better Midwest to Florida connection through Atlanta if they could close the gap between Louisville and Nashville at least with the map they’ve drawn.
 

niemi24s

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That new blue route up to Green Bay, WI would cut my distance to the nearest Amtrak station in half - but I'll be pushin' up daisies before that ever comes to pass.
 

IndyLions

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It’s kind of disappointing to me not to see a direct connection from Grand Rapids to Detroit or any other expansion in the state of Michigan, other than the proposed Detroit to Toledo service. Not surprising just disappointing.
Agreed – but the connections to the east are going to be far superior - which is a big deal for Michigan.

They’ve included Detroit to Toronto - huge on its own. And the improved connection through Toledo could mean an additional CHI-NY train traversing Michigan instead of northern Indiana.
 

IndyLions

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That new blue route up to Green Bay, WI would cut my distance to the nearest Amtrak station in half - but I'll be pushin' up daisies before that ever comes to pass.
That would be a shame if that were the case (your last sentence, that is).😉

The Hiawatha service is quite successful, it would seem to me a logical extension for a couple of trains day to make their way up to Green Bay.
 

niemi24s

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Remember reading a pamphlet in Green Bay decades ago about pax train service for TitleTown. Maybe that little blue line on the map means it's gone beyond the "hey, let's print a pamphlet" stage.
 

tim49424

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And the improved connection through Toledo could mean an additional CHI-NY train traversing Michigan instead of northern Indiana.
Yeah, that would necessitate the usage again of the track the Wolverine uses. I just wish that the studies conducted on more Northern routes in Michigan hadn’t been wasted. I had a feeling that they really didn’t care about connecting GRR and DET or say DET to Traverse City and the so-called studies were never going to come to fruition. What a joke!
 

MisterUptempo

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Are we sure that every blue line or "enhanced" line will be receiving federal funding? I recall Chicago-Rockford was being fully funded by the State of Illinois. Same goes for improvements on the Illini/Saluki route, where the state pledged $100 million.

Also, it looks like the BNSF line out of Chicago would be "enhanced" only as far as Princeton. Is there a chance any capacity enhancements means we'll see more than the planned 2 round trips on the Chicago-Quad Cities run, whenever it gets started? Will Iowa be required to provide matching funds to extend the route to Iowa City, and will they whiff a second time?

Will enhancing the Michigan services improve the chance of getting South of the Lake done, which would enhance a hell of lot more than the Michigan services?
 
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Cal

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Apologies for being a bit unfamiliar, but is this official or just made up by a third party who just used planned/supported proposed routes?
 

MARC Rider

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The extra routes and the discussion here are interesting, but neither the document nor the discussion says nothing about frequency of service. It's probably more useful to have shorter routes with more frequent service than really long routes with only one train a day that can all too easily fall behind schedule. If trains are going to be a practical transportation alternative for the masses they have to be reliable and more or less on time. Also, doing the shorter routes may be more practical in terms of getting the track in shape, stations, etc. This is especially true in parts of the country (like central KY/TN) where there is no current train service. Getting something that's regionally useful up and running quickly may be needed more than longer distance routes that pass through. Useful regional service that can become popular is probably what's needed to get people in those parts of the country used to thinking about train travel as a practical alternative.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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If they gain connectivity with the Silvers in Savannah the Florida connection wouldn’t be bad - although not as good as Atlanta to Jacksonville.

I do agree with you on the lack of a Chicago connection though. That would provide a better Midwest to Florida connection through Atlanta if they could close the gap between Louisville and Nashville at least with the map they’ve drawn.
The problem with the Savannah connection is it likely wouldn't be same-day. The only way for a train to/from Atlanta to have a same-day connection with the current Silver Service schedules is with an overnight trip, which seems unlikely.

For the same reason, this map would do virtually nothing to improve Midwest-Florida service even if a Chicago-Atlanta direct train was added, as overnights would be necessary in Atlanta and Savannah. You could even go as far as to add direct Chicago-Atlanta service and direct Atlanta-Florida service, but the existing routing from Chicago to Florida via Washington would be preferred by most relative to an overnight in Atlanta.

Don't get me wrong; I would be very happy if this actually becomes the Amtrak map in 2035, but that doesn't mean there aren't still key gaps.
 
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John Bredin

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Are we sure that every blue line will be receiving federal funding? I recall Chicago-Rockford was being fully funded by the State of Illinois. Same goes for improvements on the Illini/Saluki route, where the state pledged $100 million. Will there be federal funding to "enhance" that route?
Possibly not federal funding, but the page before the map mentions that Congress can provide funding, track access, and enforcement tools for Amtrak's preference over freight trains. Maybe the state-funded plans are listed to illustrate the other two points: access and on-time enforcement. The former is definitely an issue with getting beyond Rockford on the CN, and the latter is also an issue with CN for the Illini/Saluki as I recall.

Also, it looks like the BNSF line out of Chicago would be "enhanced" only as far as Princeton. Is there a chance any capacity enhancements means we'll see more than the planned 2 round trips on the Chicago-Quad Cities run, whenever it ever gets started? Will Iowa be required to provide matching funds to extend the route to Iowa City, and will they whiff a second time?
As to the first, this is an ambiguity in the map: clearly light blue by itself is new service where none exists now, but sometimes existing routes (dark blue) have "enhanced service" yellow alongside and sometimes "new service" light blue. (MARC Rider has mentioned a related ambiguity: none of the lines show frequency, except presumably "enhanced" service means more trains than now.)

As to the second, I wouldn't hold my breath on Iowa coughing up matching funds by itself, but that's where the corridor development program would come in, if Congress funds it: a pool of money to start state service without state operating funding, then phase in state funding after trains have been running a couple of years. The hope is that it's much harder to "kill" an operating service with a concrete constituency than "abort" a service that doesn't exist yet.
 
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jebr

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The Hiawatha service is quite successful, it would seem to me a logical extension for a couple of trains day to make their way up to Green Bay.
Agreed - I wouldn't be surprised if the Hiawatha basically becomes a "trunk line" service with most frequencies extending beyond Chicago, whether it's to Green Bay, MSP via three(?) different routes, and/or a frequency or two stopping at Madison. The current proposed second daily train to Chicago is basically suggested as an extension of a Hiawatha train, so unless track layouts dictate otherwise I'd expect the other routes to be essentially extensions of the Hiawatha Line.
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Possibly not federal funding, but the page before the map mentions that Congress can provide funding, track access, and enforcement tools for Amtrak's preference over freight trains. Maybe the state-funded plans are listed to illustrate the other two points: access and on-time enforcement. The former is definitely an issue with getting beyond Rockford on the CN, and the latter is also an issue with CN for the Illini/Saluki as I recall.

As to the first, this is an ambiguity in the map: clearly light blue by itself is new service where none exists now, but sometimes existing routes (dark blue) have "enhanced service" yellow alongside and sometimes "new service" light blue. (MARC Rider has mentioned a related ambiguity: none of the lines show frequency, except presumably "enhanced" service means more trains than now.)

As to the second, I wouldn't hold my breath on Iowa coughing up matching funds by itself, but that's where the corridor development program would come in, if Congress funds it: a pool of money to start state service without state operating funding, then phase in state funding after trains have been running a couple of years. The hope is that it's much harder to "kill" an operating service with a concrete constituency than "abort" a service that doesn't exist yet.
Here's the way I interpreted it:

Light blue with no existing route: new service

Light blue with existing route: currently LD route with new corridor service to be added

Yellow with existing route: already existing corridor routes with increased frequency by 2035
 

MisterUptempo

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As to the second, I wouldn't hold my breath on Iowa coughing up matching funds by itself, but that's where the corridor development program would come in, if Congress funds it: a pool of money to start state service without state operating funding, then phase in state funding after trains have been running a couple of years. The hope is that it's much harder to "kill" an operating service with a concrete constituency than "abort" a service that doesn't exist yet.
If the feds are not going to require any matching funds from Iowa, why not go at least as far as Des Moines then? Serving the state capital would probably increase the chances of the route remaining after the federal cash has dried up, plus extending the route that far would provide a fair measure of functionality for Iowans traveling within the state, not just those desiring to travel to Chicago.

Extending the route to Des Moines and providing Amtrak Thruway service to act as a feeder, 30 miles from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City (commuter rail between the two cities along the CRANDIC was studied and judged to be too expensive), Amtrak will have connected four of the five largest population centers in Iowa, where no service exists today.
 
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