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dart330

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News story out on the progress with this.

http://www.kjrh.com/dpp/news/progress-on-okc-tulsa-passenger-rail-service

They are saying BNSF will allow a private (non-Amtrak) company to run passenger trains on the short segment of rail the state of OK does not own into downtown Tulsa. The private company they are in talks with claims they can have the tracks repaired and trains up and running for $50 million. Originally estimated to cost closer to $120 million.

Unfortunately the governor has to sign off on the plan and find funding. I think they are too busy trying to eliminate the state income tax which will provide no funding for anything. Interesting to see the progress on this anyways, would be great to have these cities connected, it is a really boring drive.
 

Eric S

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Any word on which private company has proposed operating the service?

Also, it is not possible to run on the (ex-Frisco, right?) OKC-Tulsa line and serve the existing OKC Amtrak station without back-up moves, is it?
 

johnny.menhennet

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Any word on which private company has proposed operating the service?

Also, it is not possible to run on the (ex-Frisco, right?) OKC-Tulsa line and serve the existing OKC Amtrak station without back-up moves, is it?
Well if the train is only OKC-Tulsa, then it would not need a backup. But if it were a FTW/Texas-OKC-Tulsa service, then yes it would need to back up a little bit
 

jphjaxfl

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One of reasons Amtrak was formed was to provide seamless passenger train service not requiring multiple stations and duplicate operations that private railroads had. Going backwards to multiple operations is likely to fail.
 

Anderson

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One of reasons Amtrak was formed was to provide seamless passenger train service not requiring multiple stations and duplicate operations that private railroads had. Going backwards to multiple operations is likely to fail.
There may end up being some cities where, with a large enough network, two or more stations will be needed at some point (even if it is just a case of avoiding chaotic backups). Ideally, these will be 2-3 stations on a route, with one being "downtown" and the others being "suburban" (think DC, where WAS is downtown while ALX and NCR are suburban stops)...but there may be cases where two trains going different directions need to use different stations (at least on a temporary basis in some cases). In all fairness, some of this may end up eventually being capacity-related (for example, RVR is already getting stressed in terms of parking).

With that said, I believe that the plan here would likely be to run at least one train through to Dallas-Fort Worth. OKC-Tulsa might be a moderately popular service, but it seems that it would be more popular to have "through access" to the rest of the system. A realistic comparison would be Norfolk-to-Richmond: Yes, you'd get a decent amount of business between the two, but you get more traffic if those folks can at least get to DC as well.
 

Texan Eagle

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With that said, I believe that the plan here would likely be to run at least one train through to Dallas-Fort Worth. OKC-Tulsa might be a moderately popular service, but it seems that it would be more popular to have "through access" to the rest of the system. A realistic comparison would be Norfolk-to-Richmond: Yes, you'd get a decent amount of business between the two, but you get more traffic if those folks can at least get to DC as well.
Technically, a Tulsa-OKC train would also have "through access" to Amtrak system via Heartland Flyer at OKC, but to actually connect to Flyer in OKC, the train would end up in Tulsa at very odd hours- it would have to start from Tulsa sometime around 4.30am assuming something under 2 hour running time, and it would reach Tulsa post-midnight. I would love to see at least one Dallas/Fort Worth-OKC-Tulsa train :)
 

Anderson

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With that said, I believe that the plan here would likely be to run at least one train through to Dallas-Fort Worth. OKC-Tulsa might be a moderately popular service, but it seems that it would be more popular to have "through access" to the rest of the system. A realistic comparison would be Norfolk-to-Richmond: Yes, you'd get a decent amount of business between the two, but you get more traffic if those folks can at least get to DC as well.
Technically, a Tulsa-OKC train would also have "through access" to Amtrak system via Heartland Flyer at OKC, but to actually connect to Flyer in OKC, the train would end up in Tulsa at very odd hours- it would have to start from Tulsa sometime around 4.30am assuming something under 2 hour running time, and it would reach Tulsa post-midnight. I would love to see at least one Dallas/Fort Worth-OKC-Tulsa train :)
Hmm...Is there any serious talk of adding a second train to the Flyer's route? This comes up in part because of the scheduling issues you just mentioned, and in part because of that Heartland Flyer extension/expansion study a little while back.
 

Texan Eagle

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With that said, I believe that the plan here would likely be to run at least one train through to Dallas-Fort Worth. OKC-Tulsa might be a moderately popular service, but it seems that it would be more popular to have "through access" to the rest of the system. A realistic comparison would be Norfolk-to-Richmond: Yes, you'd get a decent amount of business between the two, but you get more traffic if those folks can at least get to DC as well.
Technically, a Tulsa-OKC train would also have "through access" to Amtrak system via Heartland Flyer at OKC, but to actually connect to Flyer in OKC, the train would end up in Tulsa at very odd hours- it would have to start from Tulsa sometime around 4.30am assuming something under 2 hour running time, and it would reach Tulsa post-midnight. I would love to see at least one Dallas/Fort Worth-OKC-Tulsa train :)
Hmm...Is there any serious talk of adding a second train to the Flyer's route? This comes up in part because of the scheduling issues you just mentioned, and in part because of that Heartland Flyer extension/expansion study a little while back.
There are talks and then there are talks. No idea what is serious and what is hot air, just that my personal desire is to see something like a reverse Heartland Flyer if not more corridor service. A train that can possibly start from Fort Worth in the morning, reach OKC before noon, connect to a OKC-Tulsa train that does a quick turnaround in Tulsa and returns to OKC, then this train can start back from OKC and arrive Fort Worth around 8-9pm or so. Currently living in Dallas I can't think of taking train to OKC because I can't do a day trip, I'd reach OKC late night and have to return next day early morning. A day train would be nice alternative to driving. If wishes were horses...
 

afigg

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Hmm...Is there any serious talk of adding a second train to the Flyer's route? This comes up in part because of the scheduling issues you just mentioned, and in part because of that Heartland Flyer extension/expansion study a little while back.
There are talks and then there are talks. No idea what is serious and what is hot air, just that my personal desire is to see something like a reverse Heartland Flyer if not more corridor service. A train that can possibly start from Fort Worth in the morning, reach OKC before noon, connect to a OKC-Tulsa train that does a quick turnaround in Tulsa and returns to OKC, then this train can start back from OKC and arrive Fort Worth around 8-9pm or so. Currently living in Dallas I can't think of taking train to OKC because I can't do a day trip, I'd reach OKC late night and have to return next day early morning. A day train would be nice alternative to driving. If wishes were horses...
The Flyer schedule is obviously set up mainly for people in Oklahoma City to get to Fort Worth/Dallas. It is also designed to need only 1 trainset. Amtrak does not have many Superliners to spare.

The major focus of extending the Flyer has been northward to Kansas, but the alternatives all came back with rather hefty price tags for a once a day train service. If OK is providing funding for the train, extending the Flyer to Tulsa should be an easier sell politically because it would need the funding support of only one state and not have to contend with the complexities of getting 2 state governments on board. I was always wondering when I was reading the reports and posts about proposals to extend the Flyer to Kansas, why not go for service expansions that are easier to achieve? Extend to Tulsa to build support and ridership for passenger rail in general, add Dallas to Kansas service later.

The current HF trip time from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City is 4 hr 15 min. The signal upgrades in TX for speed increases from 60 to 79 mph funded by the HSIPR grant are supposed to trim about 15 minutes off of the trip time, as I recall. If Oklahoma City to Tulsa is 2 to 2-1/2 hours, that would make for an approximately 6-1/2 hour trip. Could support 2 daily round trips with 2 trainsets if it was an combined Amtrak service.

OK is not participating in the order for the corridor bi-levels. If there is more federal funding in the next several years, if OK is willing to put state money for Oklahoma City to Tulsa service, might be able to join with the other Mid-west states to buy 10-12 additional bi-level corridor cars for the Heartland Flyer. Which would help Amtrak by freeing up the Superliners for use on the LD trains.

We need to see more about who the prospective private carrier is. Has the private carrier really cranked the cost numbers carefully and have the means to back up their proposal? The claim that they can get the project done in 6 months and provide rolling stock all for $50 million sounds shaky. If the private carrier is for real, then it may end up with an Amtrak Flyer service to Oklahoma City and someone else running separate trains at a multiple daily frequency from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. People can change trains Oklahoma City if they have to.
 

Texan Eagle

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If the private carrier is for real, then it may end up with an Amtrak Flyer service to Oklahoma City and someone else running separate trains at a multiple daily frequency from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. People can change trains Oklahoma City if they have to.
And that's the problem, and that's why I suggested there needs to be a reverse-Flyer to enable Dallas/Fort Worth to Tulsa connectivity. The existing Heartland Flyer reaches OKC at 9.39pm. If the connecting Private train departs OKC at 10.00pm, it will reach Tulsa only at midnight. Similarly, Flyer departs OKC at 8.25am, so if the Private Train has to connect with it arriving 8.00am at OKC, it will have to start at around 6.00am from Tulsa (not very bad, though not great either). Also, I don't think even if this connection is made, a great lot of people would opt for it, considering Tulsa to Dallas or Fort Worth is under 5 hours driving time and the combination train would take 6 hr 40 min to Fort Worth, another hour to Dallas. If the Flyer's speed can be improved to do the OKC-FTW run in 3:30 and the Private Train can do Tulsa-OKC in 1:30 and add 30 minutes of layover between trains, a 5 and half hour ride might attract more road passengers towards train. Again, as I said, all these are castles in the air, I don't see any of these things happening anytime soon.
 

Anderson

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I'm wondering...just what is the private train plan here, anyway? Or is there even a plan to speak of?
 

afigg

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I'm wondering...just what is the private train plan here, anyway? Or is there even a plan to speak of?
All we know is what is stated in the KRJH news article. No specifics on who the private carrier prospective operator is or how credible their claim is that they can repair the tracks to passenger standards in 6 months & provide equipment for $50 million compared to the earlier initial estimates of $120 to $150 million to repair the tracks.
 

afigg

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If the private carrier is for real, then it may end up with an Amtrak Flyer service to Oklahoma City and someone else running separate trains at a multiple daily frequency from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. People can change trains Oklahoma City if they have to.
And that's the problem, and that's why I suggested there needs to be a reverse-Flyer to enable Dallas/Fort Worth to Tulsa connectivity. The existing Heartland Flyer reaches OKC at 9.39pm. ...
My thinking is that if OK spends money on a OKC to Tulsa corridor service with multiple daily frequencies, they would be willing to fund a second daily Heartland Flyer, one departing FTW in the morning. If OK does not buy into the bi-level corridor car order, Amtrak should be able to provide Horizon equipment in 3-4 years.
 

cirdan

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One of reasons Amtrak was formed was to provide seamless passenger train service not requiring multiple stations and duplicate operations that private railroads had. Going backwards to multiple operations is likely to fail.
The strength of Amtrak is that it presents a single point of reference in terms of information, timetables and booking.

That doesn't mean Amtrak has to operate everything themselves. In fact they don't as many bus services listed as Amtrak connections and accepting Amtrak tickets are in fact operated by others.

So it's not other people operating things that is the problem. It is them not working with Amtrak.
 

Anderson

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One of reasons Amtrak was formed was to provide seamless passenger train service not requiring multiple stations and duplicate operations that private railroads had. Going backwards to multiple operations is likely to fail.
The strength of Amtrak is that it presents a single point of reference in terms of information, timetables and booking.

That doesn't mean Amtrak has to operate everything themselves. In fact they don't as many bus services listed as Amtrak connections and accepting Amtrak tickets are in fact operated by others.

So it's not other people operating things that is the problem. It is them not working with Amtrak.
A good comparison here would be National Rail in the UK: Technically, you've got a lot of franchised operators running different segments of the system, but you can book on any of them through a central site.

With that said, I think that consolidating the train station situations in several cities (Chicago leaps to mind here) is definitely a plus. One only has to look at the mess surrounding Downeaster connections to see what happens when this is missing.
 

johnny.menhennet

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One of reasons Amtrak was formed was to provide seamless passenger train service not requiring multiple stations and duplicate operations that private railroads had. Going backwards to multiple operations is likely to fail.
The strength of Amtrak is that it presents a single point of reference in terms of information, timetables and booking.

That doesn't mean Amtrak has to operate everything themselves. In fact they don't as many bus services listed as Amtrak connections and accepting Amtrak tickets are in fact operated by others.

So it's not other people operating things that is the problem. It is them not working with Amtrak.
A good comparison here would be National Rail in the UK: Technically, you've got a lot of franchised operators running different segments of the system, but you can book on any of them through a central site.

With that said, I think that consolidating the train station situations in several cities (Chicago leaps to mind here) is definitely a plus. One only has to look at the mess surrounding Downeaster connections to see what happens when this is missing.
I assume this Boston station problem was similar before the Empire Connection in New York?
 
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Anderson

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I'm guessing it was similar. Boston seems a hair worse because you don't have a more-or-less direct, quick subway link between the two (I think the Boston connection can take far longer than NYP-NYG was prone to), but I could be wrong there.
 

Eric S

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Well, to some extent the Boston situation is perhaps easier than the New York (NYP-NYG) was, as the same subway line (Orange Line) links both BBY-BON (granted, BOS-BON requires two trains, like NYP-NYG).

It is my understand, though, that Amtrak used to run some sort of shuttle connection between NYP & NYG.

Anyway, as it pertains to OKC, it looks like the existing rail infrastructure does not permit a direct OKC-Tulsa (without a reverse move), i.e., that the OKC-Tulsa line crosses the OKC-FTW (BNSF) line south of the OKC station and there is not a westbound to northbound (or southbound to eastbound) turnout. Of course, that is just based upon looking at rail atlases and Google maps, so I certainly defer to any who are actually familiar with the area.
 

Texan Eagle

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Anyway, as it pertains to OKC, it looks like the existing rail infrastructure does not permit a direct OKC-Tulsa (without a reverse move), i.e., that the OKC-Tulsa line crosses the OKC-FTW (BNSF) line south of the OKC station and there is not a westbound to northbound (or southbound to eastbound) turnout. Of course, that is just based upon looking at rail atlases and Google maps, so I certainly defer to any who are actually familiar with the area.
That seems correct, again based on satellite image. Check out this Wikimapia view. The OKC Amtrak station is where the "+" sign at the center of the map is, and ofcourse FTW is towards the bottom, Tulsa to the right. There are two branches going from the northbound tracks to eastbound tracks but both of them are aligned inconveniently. The Flyer would have to go up north then back out towards Tulsa.. this will make a train that came into OKC loco first now going cab first, so push-pull operation will be required; or go south again from OKC and turn right towards Tulsa. This will allow a train that comes loco first into OKC from FTW to continue to Tulsa loco first, but with a short "reverse" run, similar to what the Texas Eagle does at FTW.
 

afigg

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That seems correct, again based on satellite image. Check out this Wikimapia view. The OKC Amtrak station is where the "+" sign at the center of the map is, and ofcourse FTW is towards the bottom, Tulsa to the right. There are two branches going from the northbound tracks to eastbound tracks but both of them are aligned inconveniently. The Flyer would have to go up north then back out towards Tulsa.. this will make a train that came into OKC loco first now going cab first, so push-pull operation will be required; or go south again from OKC and turn right towards Tulsa. This will allow a train that comes loco first into OKC from FTW to continue to Tulsa loco first, but with a short "reverse" run, similar to what the Texas Eagle does at FTW.
One of the funded and obligated HSIPR projects is $1.66 million to OK listed as "Oklahoma City Depot Control Signaling and Power Switch Installment". The Project summary description is "Construction of a track extension and installation of new signal and power switches that will allow the Heartland Flyer to exit the Oklahoma City station without having to make a reverse move."

Don't know if that has any relevance towards a possible connection to run to Tulsa.
 

jphjaxfl

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The OKC Depots Configurations go back to the days when the private railroads did their best not to coordinate with their competition. In OKC, Santa Fe had their own depot. The Frisco and Rock Island used another depot. You had to take a cab to change depots. This situation happened in many cities. One example is Birmingham which had 2 depots until 1979. Amtrak's Floridian used the former L&N Depot. Southern's Crescent used a new depot that was located where the beautiful Terminal Station was torn down. The Crescent had to back in to their depot, but the Crescent went right passed the Former L&N Depot on a through track. From my own experience, I had a number of very close connections in Birmingham from the Crescent to the Floridian which were scheduled very close. One time when I was in the Air Force, a Southern Regional Management person drove me from the Southern Depot to the Amtrak depot so I could make the connection. Today the Crescent uses the former L&N Depot with no backup move, but unfortunately there is no longer a connection.
 

dart330

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I sat through a public meeting last year about selecting the location of the proposed multimodal hub for OKC. One of the considerations was being able to connect to the line to Tulsa as well as the BNSF mainline. They eventually selected the current station for planning going forward.

If I get a chance I will see if I can find the plans they showed off. Of course that also included the OK DOT pipe-dream 220 mph route they submitted to the Feds for funding. Glad to see the state actually looking at something plausible.

Edit: Here is a link to a pdf with the location of the connection they would make: http://www.acogok.org/Newsroom/Downloads11/hubsitesplus.pdf

Based on the current BNSF right-of-way and elevated trackway structure through downtown Oklahoma City, 5 tracks and 2 platforms can be accommodated without significant infrastructure modifications to widen the trackway. The operations analysis is based on maximizing the use of the existing right-of-way by developing the most efficient track arrangements and sharing platforms between commuter rail and high speed rail. The base track configuration for the hub includes:• two through tracks sharing an island platform for use by local trains and HSR,

• one through track and platform for the exclusive use of Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer

• two through tracks for BNSF freight trains with no passenger platforms
The electric switch that got funding is going to allow Amtrak to use the track closest to the station (furthest West), right now it dead ends on the south side before rejoining the mainline.
 
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