New Gulf Coast Amtrak service (New Orleans - Mobile, New Orleans - Baton Rouge)

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DSS&A

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It has just been announced todaybghat an agreement has been reached by all parties that will allow Amtrak to run Gulf Coast passenger trains. Details have not yet been released.

 

GDRRiley

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going to be really interesting to see what Amtrak got out of it for how much investment. I wish they were fighting for 5-6RT slots to BR with 1-2 onto Florida.
 
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No details of the agreement, but a bit more general info & a copy of the STB filing here:
 

George Harris

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I'm not holding my breath given the way things have gone so far.

For this entire thing the lack of cooperation on the part of CSX makes no sense. This is a near flat and straight piece of railroad with CTC and not that high a number of freight trains. Due to lack of grades you are not going to deal with freights grinding up hill at 10 mph, although given the tendency to minimize power to just above stalling it could take the freights 5+ miles to get up to speed. They should be regarding anything they get out of Amtrak as a bonus because so far as the ability of the current facility to handle a couple or more passenger trains each way should require next to nothing in improvements on their part.

Extension of grade crossing circuits may be an issue, as the line does have a gazillion road crossings once out of the Louisiana swamps as the area across Mississippi is essentially an urbanized strip. But that should be in place from the days of the extended Sunset Ltd. This is after all the "Redneck Riviera".

Another thought, for the length of line once a day service makes no sense. It should be 3 to 4 a day spread out, morning, mid day, afternoon, and evening, with the last two listed being one if you want only 3 trains per day. If I recall correctly, when North Carolina went to a third train they carried more per train than they did with two a day.
 

zephyr17

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My own opinion is CSX blinked. They anticipated the STB was going to rule against them on access and didn't want that opinion on the record as the STB likely would have reiterated statutory access rights at "avoidable cost" and denied their 2050 capacity fantasies as not being avoidable costs.

CSX wanted billions of improvements for the service based on a capacity "study" that was hypothetical at best.

This was a test case for Amtrak's statutory access rights. Amtrak was going to fight this to the death as knuckling under would have endangered any hope of corridor expansion because the railroads could have demanded just about anything as an "unaviodable cost" if they caved or lost. I am sure Amtrak will have to pay for a new siding or something, but not the billions CSX in improvements was demanding. Amtrak was not backing down and all indications were they had a STB that was leaning towards supporting access rights. I honestly didn't understand why CSX had apparently chosen this hill to die on to fight Amtrak access rights. And in the end, they retreated. Amtrak was not going to either retreat or pay the billions in improvements CSX had been demanding. Amtrak may have agreed to a bit more than originally, but I am positive it was nothing close to what CSX was demanding.
 

zephyr17

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I'm not holding my breath given the way things have gone so far.

For this entire thing the lack of cooperation on the part of CSX makes no sense. This is a near flat and straight piece of railroad with CTC and not that high a number of freight trains. Due to lack of grades you are not going to deal with freights grinding up hill at 10 mph, although given the tendency to minimize power to just above stalling it could take the freights 5+ miles to get up to speed. They should be regarding anything they get out of Amtrak as a bonus because so far as the ability of the current facility to handle a couple or more passenger trains each way should require next to nothing in improvements on their part.

Extension of grade crossing circuits may be an issue, as the line does have a gazillion road crossings once out of the Louisiana swamps as the area across Mississippi is essentially an urbanized strip. But that should be in place from the days of the extended Sunset Ltd. This is after all the "Redneck Riviera".

Another thought, for the length of line once a day service makes no sense. It should be 3 to 4 a day spread out, morning, mid day, afternoon, and evening, with the last two listed being one if you want only 3 trains per day. If I recall correctly, when North Carolina went to a third train they carried more per train than they did with two a day.
For some silly reason, CSX wanted to press it as a test case on Amtrak's statutory access rights. It was a losing case for them, for the reasons you point out, and I do not know for the life of me why they chose this to test Amtrak's rights. In the end, it appears they blinked. Amtrak was not going to because had CSX won on their pretty ridiculous capacity claims, Amtrak would be pretty much locked out of any service expansion for forever. My conclusion is CSX backed off in the end.
 

jis

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MODERATOR'S NOTE: About a dozen posts about service extension beyond Mobile have been moved to a pre-existing thread covering that at:


Please direct posts on restoration of Florida Panhandle service to this pre-existing thread and reserve the current thread for discussing the agreement regarding start of service between New Orleans and Mobile.

Thank you for your understanding, cooperation and participation.
 

frequentflyer

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The combative CSX CEO Forte is gone and replaced with a new CEO trying to shore up ties with the STB. Go back and watch Forte's demeanor during the STB hearings, it got personal.........and entertaining to watch. Maybe this is the kinder and gentler (yeah right) CSX.
 

GDRRiley

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I'm sure we will never know but I wonder if all the Brass of class 1 got together and said this case would be bad for us if amtrak wins. Its better to take the hit than give amtrak an opening to start a bunch of new lines without forcing an over investment in public funds for freight upgrades under the name of pax service.
The details are going to be interesting to see in a few weeks
 

cirdan

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Another thought, for the length of line once a day service makes no sense. It should be 3 to 4 a day spread out, morning, mid day, afternoon, and evening, with the last two listed being one if you want only 3 trains per day. If I recall correctly, when North Carolina went to a third train they carried more per train than they did with two a day.

Do you think the situation here is comparable to North Carolina? It seems to me the NC Amtrak services serve places like the research triangle, and several significant college towns. The overall area has a booming real estate market and lots of attractive employers, a vibrant startup culture etc etc. Many of the people involved in this may be moving out of NEC-land and thus already have a rail culture of sorts, which makes it logical that they would both demand and use a rail service.

Can the same be said of the Gulf Coast? I may be mistaken but it seems much of the new-found wealth and prosperity on the Gulf Coast was brought there by oil and gas jobs, which is maybe not such a good industry to be building on in the longer term. And not really driving the urban pro-rail mindset that can be found in NC.
 
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I'm following this announcement with interest. But if service is resumed I'm curious where the rolling stock will come from? Isn't there an existing shortage of Superliner cars?
There should be cars freed up by the deployment of the Siemens Venture cars elsewhere on the system. Single level cars would be appropriate for this service.
 

jis

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I'm following this announcement with interest. But if service is resumed I'm curious where the rolling stock will come from? Isn't there an existing shortage of Superliner cars?
I very much doubt that this service will use Superliner cars. More likely it will start with hand me down single level Horizon cars.
 

jis

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Does this agreement only allow service between New Orleans and Mobile (at least for now)?
This agreement is specifically about New Orleans to Mobile service. But it does create certain precedents which may be useful in general, in the future. More importantly it does not create certain negative precedents that rail advocates feared.
 

Hans627

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This agreement is specifically about New Orleans to Mobile service. But it does create certain precedents which may be useful in general, in the future. More importantly it does not create certain negative precedents that rail advocates feared.
OK, I misunderstood and was thinking this was the old Sunset Limited route.
 

MikefromCrete

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The agreement is significant in that is will allow twice daily service between New Orleans and Mobile. It is a significant victory for passenger train advocates since CSX has suffered a defeat in its attempt to stop all new passenger service on its tracks and hopefully other freight railroads will back off from trying to make unreasonable demands about new service.
But this does not protend a return of the Sunset East. That will be another battle.
 

City of Miami

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Re multiple daily round trips.
In July Amtrak instituted a second daily regional train to Roanoke, this is in addition to 2 Crescents a day and 2 Cardinals 3x/wk over much of the same track. Amtrak still has not gotten their meets together. Even tho there are many miles of long sidings one Amtrak train very frequently (daily) has to wait as long as 20 minutes on another Amtrak train in the opposite direction to pass. This seems to be the result of late departures from Washington coming off the NEC
 

zephyr17

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Re multiple daily round trips.
In July Amtrak instituted a second daily regional train to Roanoke, this is in addition to 2 Crescents a day and 2 Cardinals 3x/wk over much of the same track. Amtrak still has not gotten their meets together. Even tho there are many miles of long sidings one Amtrak train very frequently (daily) has to wait as long as 20 minutes on another Amtrak train in the opposite direction to pass. This seems to be the result of late departures from Washington coming off the NEC
That isn't Amtrak controlled trackage south of Washington and Amtrak does not control where trains meet on it. CSX dispatchers do.
 

jis

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That isn't Amtrak controlled trackage south of Washington and Amtrak does not control where trains meet on it. CSX dispatchers do.
Well on the route to Charlottesville and Lynchburg it is NS dispatchers that do the honors south of AF interlocking just south of Alexandria. It is CSX on the Richmond Line (exRF&P), not the Manassas Line (ex-Southern). From CP Virginia just outside the First Street Tunnel to CP AF just south of Alexandria it is all CSX, but that is a two or more track territory.
 

City of Miami

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It seems to me the good intention of all concerned was the trains to meet on the lengthy double track north of Orange to Rapidan. They seldom do due to late departure from Washington due to late arrival and half hour layover.
 
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