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RPA: Developing New Amtrak Corridors Presentation

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NSC1109

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This presentation happened earlier today. I wasn't able to attend it live but I did go through the PDF document and it contained a veritable gold mine of information.

Here are some of the current/potential corridors listed as "Under Review" by Amtrak. Any city name in bold is a new corridor:


MIDWEST:
Chicago to:
-Carbondale
-Champaign
-Cincinnati
-Cleveland
-Toledo

-Grand Rapids
-Indianapolis*
-Louisville
-Madison

-Milwaukee
-Moline
-Omaha
-Detroit
-Lansing
-Flint
-Rockford
-Kansas City
-Toronto

Detroit to:
-Buffalo via Cleveland
-Grand Rapids


TEXAS/GULF COAST:
Dallas to:
-San Antonio
-Houston
-Oklahoma City/Wichita

Houston to:
-San Antonio

New Orleans to:
-Mobile


WEST:

Los Angeles to:
-Las Vegas
-Tucson via Palm Springs and Phoenix

Enhanced PacSurf
Enhanced CapCor
-
San Francisco (Coast Daylight)

Fort Collins to:
Pueblo via Boulder/Denver/Colorado Springs

SOUTHEAST:

-Enhanced DC-VA-NC service (Long Bridge + DC2RVA + SEHSR)

Atlanta to:
-Charlotte
-Nashville

Jacksonville to:
-Miami via Orlando and Tampa

ATLANTIC REGION:
Boston to:
-Concord


-Enhanced New Haven-Springfield-Greenfield + New Haven - Boston Inland Route
-Northeast Regional Long Island Extension
-Montreal Customs Facility/extend Vermonter
-Extend Pennsylvanian and Empire services to Cleveland



An interesting question in the presentation: Is there any consideration for adding Chicago to Florida service?

Response: Service could be there, but it would likely not be a one-seat ride, sounds like Chicago-Atlanta then Atlanta-Florida.

RPA is broaching the idea of Atlanta becoming the SE region hub.

Link to PDF: https://www.railpassengers.org/site/assets/files/16610/september_23_-_new_corridors.pdf

Link to video (about an hour and ten minutes): Developing New Amtrak Corridors: Expanding the U.S. Passenger Market | September 23, 2020 | Rail Passengers Association | Washington, DC
 

jiml

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I wonder how many parallels there are between this list and the FRA document referenced in another recent thread. My guess is this one is more of a "wishlist", but does a comparison yield any clues to actual direction under ideal circumstances*?

* Covid19 and tri-weekly service are not ideal circumstances.
 

Anderson

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The Long Island thing was proposed once before (IIRC it was around 2000 and it was a Pataki thing). I believe the reason it failed wasn't political...the issue was something with tight turning radii on some lines on Long Island that would be problematic for Amfleets. Locomotive changes might also have been at issue (I'm not sure what is compatible with what and how far it goes).
 

railiner

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There is the question of whether it would be an Amtrak train using Amtrak crews over LIRR "trackage rights", or if it would be an interchange train, with LI crews operating it over their portion...either way, not worth the extra expense of implementing it, for what might be just a marginal amount of thru passenger's.
 
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NES28

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There were 2 presentations. Both Ray Lang, head of state relations for Amtrak, snd Jim Matthews of RPA discussed the 5 year reauthorization of the Transportation program passed by the House in June but, so far, ignored by the Senate. This would greatly increase Amtrak funding but, more importantly, initiate a well-funded program, primarily for high speed projects. It could pass if the Democrats take the White House and Senate. Ray focused on the handful of proposals that Amtrak has made to states in the last year (such as Mobile-New Orleans, Front Range, Nashville-Atlanta) for . Jim's presentation focused on the Southeast and Midwest Regional Plans, which focus on a few true high speed dedicated routes fed by a network of mixed shared and dedicated routes in each region that the Federal Railroad Administration has been working with the states and other stakeholders on for the the last several years and are, apparently, close to going more public. The FRA plan calls for frequent service; the Amtrak plan 2-3 trips, at conventional speeds Jim characterized the FRA process as the "40 year plan" and the Amtrak proposals as the "15 year plan".

My concern is that the freight RRs will demand expensive upgrades to permit the operation Amtrak suggests (if they permit it at all) while all of this investment will be lost when the dedicated route required to "do it right" is constructed.

The FRA plans make sense if, indeed, there is money available, making it the 15 year plan. I think getting that enacted needs to be the focus. Anything else is a distraction.
 

jis

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I hope at least some of these ideas do a little bit better than the extensively researched and well documented Performance Improvement Plans which had well quantified returns, and concrete plans for execution and yet found their way into the trash can.

Typically these things serve at least one purpose, that of funding another generation of consultant's children through college.

Unless Congress puts real wood behind these arrowheads, in a manner of speaking they will go exactly where the previous ones went. At least these provide something to present to Congress when asking for funding, that is over and above and beyond the multiple tens of billions that is needed to bring what is currently operating to a state of good repair.

Skeptical? Moi? 😏
 

joelkfla

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Unless Brightline goes belly up, the Florida proposal seems redundant. Brightline is actively planning their extension to Tampa, and has expressed a desire to extend to JAX.
 

MARC Rider

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The Long Island thing was proposed once before (IIRC it was around 2000 and it was a Pataki thing). I believe the reason it failed wasn't political...the issue was something with tight turning radii on some lines on Long Island that would be problematic for Amfleets. Locomotive changes might also have been at issue (I'm not sure what is compatible with what and how far it goes).
Given that Long Island isn't really all that wide, perhaps there would only need to be one Amtrak route extended into Long Island. After all, it's not like stations on the NEC directly serve where there riders live. Many of us have to drive a little bit to get to the station. Is there a route suitable for the Amfleets? I would think they could either run on the main line to Ronkakoma or on the south shore line all the way to Montauk. Would the Amtrak Dual electric-diesels used on the Empire Corridor work on the LIRR, or is the 3rd rail electric system different?
 

Seaboard92

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Given that Long Island isn't really all that wide, perhaps there would only need to be one Amtrak route extended into Long Island. After all, it's not like stations on the NEC directly serve where there riders live. Many of us have to drive a little bit to get to the station. Is there a route suitable for the Amfleets? I would think they could either run on the main line to Ronkakoma or on the south shore line all the way to Montauk. Would the Amtrak Dual electric-diesels used on the Empire Corridor work on the LIRR, or is the 3rd rail electric system different?
The Amtrak duel modes should be able to go onto Long Island with the exception of a few of them. Most of them are set up for the EX PRR/LIRR overrunning third rail. Whereas a few and all of Metro North's are set up for under running third rail.
 

jis

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The Amtrak duel modes should be able to go onto Long Island with the exception of a few of them. Most of them are set up for the EX PRR/LIRR overrunning third rail. Whereas a few and all of Metro North's are set up for under running third rail.
Then there is the incompatible cab signa codes between LIRR and Amtrak to keep in mind too. They will need to be fitted with the additional LIRR track circuit signal codes too.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Long Island has good rail service.
Other than the Senior Senator from NY, is than anything that Amtrak would bring to the table if it runs a train on Long Island?

With all the state supported service changes and the 750 mile rule. Why is this even a discussion?

I would be much happier for this energy and funds to be spent on better service upstate.
 

Qapla

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Unless Brightline goes belly up, the Florida proposal seems redundant. Brightline is actively planning their extension to Tampa, and has expressed a desire to extend to JAX.
With the sabotage they have already done to the MIA-NYP routes for the Silvers - running the Meteor daily and having the Star be a JAX-TPA-MIA train NOW would be a good idea since it will be quite some time before Brightline will be operational to Tampa (let alone JAX) and Amtrak already goes there.

I'm sure there could be some sort of daily run figured for the stops missed on the Star route through the Carolinas
 

jis

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Long Island has good rail service.
Other than the Senior Senator from NY, is than anything that Amtrak would bring to the table if it runs a train on Long Island?

With all the state supported service changes and the 750 mile rule. Why is this even a discussion?

I would be much happier for this energy and funds to be spent on better service upstate.
I agree. I don't think Long Island really needs any Amtrak service, except as a vanity, specially when there are so many other places that lack any service at all that could gain from getting their first service.
 

joelkfla

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With the sabotage they have already done to the MIA-NYP routes for the Silvers - running the Meteor daily and having the Star be a JAX-TPA-MIA train NOW would be a good idea since it will be quite some time before Brightline will be operational to Tampa (let alone JAX) and Amtrak already goes there.

I'm sure there could be some sort of daily run figured for the stops missed on the Star route through the Carolinas
Sure, no argument against restoring Silver service to it's prior level, but I thought "corridor" meant several local trains a day, and perhaps track upgrades or purchase.
 

MARC Rider

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Sure, no argument against restoring Silver service to it's prior level, but I thought "corridor" meant several local trains a day, and perhaps track upgrades or purchase.
Certainly at least one more train between Washington and Fayetteville, or even Florence or Charleston to supplement the Palmetto. When I ride the Palmetto, I see a LOT of people getting on at those stations.
 

jis

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Sure, no argument against restoring Silver service to it's prior level, but I thought "corridor" meant several local trains a day, and perhaps track upgrades or purchase.
We should refrain from mixing the "Corridor" discussion with the "LD" network. The inevitable result of that mixing appears to be great plans to slice up the LD trains into shorter distance "Corridor" trains which may or may not connect conveniently at their end points.

Silver Star and Silver Meteor fall on the LD side of things and they should restored to their full service irrespective of whether additional corridor trains are introduced covering parts of their routes, as they should be, without a question too. But that should not be at the cost of slicing up LD trains.

As it is the FRA discussions of the Southeast and Midwest Regional Development is assuming that those Regional studies do not cover any notion of a through one seat ride Chicago to Florida train. It would certainly be possible to travel between those point, but possibly involving at least one or more train changes. This was discussed at the RPA Webinar the other day. For single seat ride long distance trains there needs to be a dedicated planning activity. At present one does not exist either within Amtrak or in the FRA as far as I can tell, beyond how to continue running the current trains, if that.

And indeed as FRA designates it, a Regional Corridor implies 4-8 or more trains a day.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Using the upstate NY as a reference.
4-8 trains daily. 1 Lake Shore Limited, 1 Maple Leaf, 2 Buffalo to NYC.

Do we have a Regional Corridor?

I am little miffed at the Empire State Passenger Association meeting they did point 4 trains only, and no additional trains in years.
 

jis

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The example of a successful regional corridor development that was talked about in the Webinar is the California Capitol Corridor which went from basically 2 or 3 round trips to 16 per day.

New York's Empire Corridor fails that test quite handily.
 

Anderson

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As far as I can tell, upstate service in New York is pretty close to what it was in late 1971 in terms of frequency (only the LSL moving is a major change):

Albany-New York service has been beefed up a bit, but a good chunk of that is the addition of the Adirondack and the Ethan Allen (really, plus some added rush hour service that's about it).
 
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jis

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Actually Albany - NYP probably meets the definition of a Regional Corridor in terms of frequency.

What has been short changed big time is West of Albany Service.

BTW did you notice the "Silver Star" to Albany in the timetable linked by @Anderson above? 🤫 The timetables in 1971 were often quite a mess of inconsistencies.
 

neroden

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We should refrain from mixing the "Corridor" discussion with the "LD" network.
On the contrary, I firmly believe it's a fake distinction and they should be treated as one and the same.

But then I live on the New York to Chicago corridor. (Or "LD" route.)

"Corridors" need overnight trains too. "Long distance" just means longer corridors, and at least east of the Mississippi, also needs at least 4 trains a day each way. The Silver Service would get treated better if it were recognized that it's a long corridor; the NEC would get treated better if it was recognized that roomettes overnight on the Night Owl are attractive and popular.

Perhaps a separate category for trains with empty low-population desert crossings like the Sunset Limited -- "rural service" trains?

But the "long-distance" category is nonsense as long as it includes such corridors as New York to Chicago and New York to Miami.

I mean, if you look historically, we're looking at routes which normally had many trains per day. There are high-population cities essentially continuously along the routes.

The rural service trains never had that many trains per day, so maybe they are a separate category. But putting NY-Chicago and NY-Miami in a separate category from Boston-DC is craziness.
 

neroden

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The example of a successful regional corridor development that was talked about in the Webinar is the California Capitol Corridor which went from basically 2 or 3 round trips to 16 per day.

New York's Empire Corridor fails that test quite handily.
We have a perfectly good regional corridor *route*, we've just never actually managed to improve it since 1971, with the lone exception of the establishment of the Lake Shore Limited. As an advocate, it's frustrating. It's an unimproved, undeveloped corridor. There is no reason it should be this way.
 
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