Restoration of New Orleans - Mobile - Jacksonville Gulf Coast Service

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

cassie225

Lead Service Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
401
Location
Louisiana
Hope that new platform does not end of being like a brand new bridge they built here in Louisiana that my hubbie took me to see when we first moved here. A bridge to no where. Beautiful bridge that if I remember correctly that ended in a sugar cane field. Lol
 

DonNewcomb

Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 11, 2019
Messages
112
Hope that new platform does not end of being like a brand new bridge they built here in Louisiana that my hubbie took me to see when we first moved here. A bridge to no where. Beautiful bridge that if I remember correctly that ended in a sugar cane field. Lol
You mean the Sunshine Bridge? Not exactly "nowhere" but not a lot of anywhere, either.
 

mlanoue

Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
130
Location
Joliet, Illinois

GDRRiley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 16, 2022
Messages
295
Location
SF bay/LA
Yeah, since even if by Amtrak's accounting a state route manages to "make money", somehow Amtrak will fiddle with the overhead to ensure the state pays Amtrak something.
state routes should make money or break even because Amtrak operates them and the state pays a fix per mile cost.
 

Anderson

Engineer
Joined
Nov 16, 2010
Messages
9,850
Location
Virginia
state routes should make money or break even because Amtrak operates them and the state pays a fix per mile cost.
Except that that's not how the funding formulas work. Amtrak gets to unload an unholy amount of overhead (arguably worthy of a Hollywood studio) off onto routes (e.g. marketing expenses even if Amtrak hasn't actually spent anything marketing the route in question).
 

GDRRiley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 16, 2022
Messages
295
Location
SF bay/LA
Not happening. This is for corridor service from New Orleans to Mobile, not beyond Mobile. Sunset East is about as dead as dead can be.
I wouldn't be so sure its dead. the shortline there would need class 4 track (60mph freight 80mph amtrak) and PTC.
UP cost for PTC for the coast line 1m for 10 miles. ~40m for the 400 mile mainline if the lack it.

Given CSX last used it as a main track I'd assume its got CTC not hand thrown switches
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.
I also wonder if CSX got a pushback from other class 1. I doubt other brass from NS or UP would be happy that CSX resulted in them being forced to comply with amtraks request for more service.
 

zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
6,910
Location
Washington State
I wouldn't be so sure its dead. the shortline there would need class 4 track (60mph freight 80mph amtrak) and PTC.
Amtrak actually kicked in to raise it back to Class 3 when they instituted Sunset East service. It is mostly dark, IIRC, but I think Amtrak kicked in for some CTC islands at that time. Much of it was never Class 4.

The issues are not just the current condition of the route and that a big chunk has been spun off to a short line, but also Amtrak's utter disinterest in reviving it as a National Network route.

As far as I am concerned, there are a LOT of things Amtrak should be addressing if it ever gets serious about preserving, let alone expanding, the National Network. NOL-JAX, though it represents a hole in the network, is pretty far down the list. There are a lot of other holes to go along with it, like no north-south services between the Chicago-New Orleans and Los Angeles-Seattle, Chicago-Florida service, etc, etc.
 

Anthony V

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
270
I wouldn't be so sure its dead. the shortline there would need class 4 track (60mph freight 80mph amtrak) and PTC.
UP cost for PTC for the coast line 1m for 10 miles. ~40m for the 400 mile mainline if the lack it.

Given CSX last used it as a main track I'd assume its got CTC not hand thrown switches

I also wonder if CSX got a pushback from other class 1. I doubt other brass from NS or UP would be happy that CSX resulted in them being forced to comply with amtraks request for more service.
Actually, with the Florida, Gulf and Atlantic Railroad's purchase of the CSX rail line in the Florida Panhandle in 2019, the likelihood of an agreement being reached for Amtrak to return to the Florida Panhandle route in the event such an agreement is sought has actually increased. This is because smaller railroads are far more likely to play nice and not make unreasonable capital demands to share tracks with passenger trains than Class I railroads are. A shortline railroad's costs and revenues are naturally lower than a Class I's (often measured in millions rather than billions of dollars). Because of this, they see the track usage fees they would collect from a passenger rail operator in exchange for them sharing tracks with passenger trains as a lucrative source of revenue. These fees often make up a larger portion of shortline's annual revenue than they do to a class I railroad. This would usually motivate a smaller railroad to negotiate in good faith when it comes to hosting passenger trains over their tracks.
 

GDRRiley

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Sep 16, 2022
Messages
295
Location
SF bay/LA
Amtrak actually kicked in to raise it back to Class 3 when they instituted Sunset East service. It is mostly dark, IIRC, but I think Amtrak kicked in for some CTC islands at that time. Much of it was never Class 4.
You don't need CTC all the way but it does often make service more reliable. Class 4 isn't a must you could even target get nearly all to class 3 and that may increase speeds almost as much as a few sections being class 4.
50mph average would put Mobile to jacksonville at ~10 hours
The issues are not just the current condition of the route and that a big chunk has been spun off to a short line, but also Amtrak's utter disinterest in reviving it as a National Network route.
That was old CEOs amtrak seems more intrested now in adding to their network. Connect US is about filling in lots of those missing routes with corridor service no reason why you couldn't mix those same investments with some more LD trains.
Because of this, they see the track usage fees they would collect from a passenger rail operator in exchange for them sharing tracks with passenger trains as a lucrative source of revenue. These fees often make up a larger portion of shortline's annual revenue than they do to a class I railroad. This would usually motivate a smaller railroad to negotiate in good faith when it comes to hosting passenger trains over their tracks.
Its also an easy way to get much needed upgrades on someone else dime if you aren't too greedy about it.
I suggested they should start with 2RT a day on it to have a 100-150m in upgrades make some level of sense.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
34,419
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
There is a definite possibility of a daily train NOL MOB JAX ORL some day. There is zero chance of Sunset East happening.

I don’t think Florida will contribute much at the state level to operate a Gulf coast Service to JAX/ORL. Local towns enroute might contribute some.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
2,021
There is zero chance of Sunset East happening.

I totally agree and if this is one of the things that comes out of the Long distance study I suspect Amtrak would much rather and be more likely to extend the CONO to Orlando than extend the Sunset again.

On the main topic it’s great to see this occur and a positive sign in general for the prospects of any of the expansion ideas.
 

TransitTyrant

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2022
Messages
79
Location
Chicago
Actually, with the Florida, Gulf and Atlantic Railroad's purchase of the CSX rail line in the Florida Panhandle in 2019, the likelihood of an agreement being reached for Amtrak to return to the Florida Panhandle route in the event such an agreement is sought has actually increased. This is because smaller railroads are far more likely to play nice and not make unreasonable capital demands to share tracks with passenger trains than Class I railroads are. A shortline railroad's costs and revenues are naturally lower than a Class I's (often measured in millions rather than billions of dollars). Because of this, they see the track usage fees they would collect from a passenger rail operator in exchange for them sharing tracks with passenger trains as a lucrative source of revenue. These fees often make up a larger portion of shortline's annual revenue than they do to a class I railroad. This would usually motivate a smaller railroad to negotiate in good faith when it comes to hosting passenger trains over their tracks.
That’s not always true, Iowa Interstate in Illinois has been fighting with IDOT for over a decade on running trains to Moline. Illinois has federal and state money to start the service but still no operating agreement. The Buckingham Branch is supposedly the reason why there isn’t a daily Cardinal yet, they’re refusing. Class IIs and IIIs are just as bad as the Is.
 

Anthony V

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 10, 2016
Messages
270
That’s not always true, Iowa Interstate in Illinois has been fighting with IDOT for over a decade on running trains to Moline. Illinois has federal and state money to start the service but still no operating agreement. The Buckingham Branch is supposedly the reason why there isn’t a daily Cardinal yet, they’re refusing. Class IIs and IIIs are just as bad as the Is.
I know it isn't. I was just speaking in a general sense on the matter. There are always going to be railroads of all sizes differing in how they treat passenger rail operators.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
34,419
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
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.
There is no plan to restore the Sunset East. There is a plan to run a daily service between New Orleans and Florida. It could either be a self standing service or an extension of the CONO.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,366
Location
finally! Back in Mississippi
I think a stand-alone service would a better choice than extending the CONO.
Absolutely. Should have two sets of equipment. It is about a three hour run. There should be at least a morning and a late afternoon run from both ends, and there could be a mid day one as well without need for extra equipment. Have about a five mile long section of second main about midways between end points.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
34,419
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
MODERATOR'S NOTE: A number of posts on Chicago to Florida service via New Orleans by extending the CONO to JAX/Orlando have been moved to a separate thread on that subject:


Please continue the Chicago - Florida service discussion in this new thread and leave the current thread for discussion about restoration of Gulf Coast Service between New Orleans and Florida.

Thank you for your understanding, cooperation and participation.
 
Top