I don't know how difficult it would be for the host railroads to run another passenger train, but I figure it would require a carrot and stick approach. More compensation for each train and some form of legal enforcement if they delay Amtrak too frequently. Along with everything else in my post, it was more of a wish list rather than a call to arms.
I wasn't thinking of something as extravagant as the NBS, more in the line of looking at where the most delays due to traffic occur and sharing the expense between Amtrak and the host railroad to double or triple track that section. One of the problems with this is the increasingly long trains that the host railroads are using.
On the diner part I was talking about the relatively new VLII Diners, 68000 through 68024. They have a hot production line if they want more, too. It is incredibly slow, but they are actually delivering cars.
Yeah, both the Pioneer and the North Coast Hiawatha are dreams more than real goals, but those communities could really use the service back. I think 300 to 500 mile corridor trains make more sense than a 2200+ mile NCH. Having an 800+ mile long Pioneer that went from Seattle and Salt Lake City might work with state subsidies, but the 1300+ mile Seattle to Denver route would be better but it would be even more difficult to make it work.
Again, more of a wish list than an appraisal of what I think we will see, but it would allow Amtrak to serve more communities and to so so in a way that makes the network stronger. But the lack of long term funding and the increasing levels of freight traffic make it a difficult wish list to see delivered.
I think adding a second daily route to either the Empire Builder or the California Zephyr are the least unreasonable to work towards since they are trains that have a single frequency per day and both have ridership over 400,000 people per year and have been higher in the recent past. Start with more sleepers on existing trains and hopefully work up to a second daily train.