Quantcast

Stephen Gardner new Amtrak president

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

jimdex

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
23
The Coast Starlight serves exactly as many states as the Wolverine, the Downeaster, the proposed extra Chicago-St. Paul train, etc. A New Orleans-Florida route would serve more states than the Coast Starlight.

By what logic, other than an arbitrary mileage cutoff that is far, far higher than the reach of Metra and LIRR (which you referenced as service for which Amtrak should not be responsible), is one more deserving of federal funding than the others?
The mileage cutoff is part of a law Congress passed about ten years ago. If you want it changed, you have to work through Congress, not Amtrak.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
26,611
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
By what logic, other than an arbitrary mileage cutoff that is far, far higher than the reach of Metra and LIRR (which you referenced as service for which Amtrak should not be responsible), is one more deserving of federal funding than the others?
Not saying that the logic /justification for that particular number is or was a good one, or the entire thing was a good idea from the getgo, but....

The logic was pretty clear to those paying attention. It is a convenient round number that allows the Carolinians to be state funded (and make sure that all NY and California state trains remain state funded, except the existing LDs though those states of course) while the Palmetto remains a National Network train. The rest is wherever things may fall.

The entire purpose was to unburden the National Network of the excessive unrecovered costs of the regional trains, and make the states responsible for covering major portion of the gap. It was an exercise in reducing the demand for federal funds at a time when the ongoing existence of all of Amtrak was in jeopardy, and to some it at the momoment looked like a reasonable way out af the immediate bind. Was there a better way of wording the law to achieve this goal? I think so. But that is water under the bridge and over the dam long time back.

As usual, of course everything has unintended (or maybe secretly intended, who knows?) consequences.
 
Last edited:

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
12,001
Location
Texas
Has the 750mi rule ever been used to actually block or dismantle something? Which states had projects that would have moved forward except for the rule? If projects never get to the point that the 750mi rule can take effect does that make it a red herring or was the original goal to dissuade new projects from reaching that stage in the first place?
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
26,611
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
It has certainly produced many zillion pages of bellyaching and maybe made funding of a few trains a little harder because of lack of local funding support. The Trump administration made things harder by trying to claim randomly that states are not allowed to use other non-rail federal title funds (e.g. CMAQ) for the purpose of providing state support funds. It was mostly a McConnell family position as far as I can tell, and Trump went along with it, because it allowed making things inconveient for Cuomo and Murphy.

AFAIK the only known train that died was the Hoosier State because Indiana did not want to fund it.
 
Last edited:

sttom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 23, 2019
Messages
629
If Georgia wants it, they can have it.

If you take the 750 mile rule away how is that fair to states like North Carolina and Virginia that have invested so much?

Why should Georgia get for free, what NC has paid millions for?
Sunk costs have no barring on future actions. If Georgia gets access to a new funding mechanism that allows an Atlanta-Charlotte Corridor to get funded, the state politicians and more importantly voters, aren't going to care if they spent money beforehand so long as they get money too. As I and many have pointed out here before, highway widening projects of a few miles get some federal funds. There is no way a 3 mile highway widening project near me in California is more of a federal concern than a 300 mile rail corridor anywhere in the country.

If the 750 mile rule was done away with and a new permanent funding mechanism was created, a new way to prioritize funding would need to be implemented. What that would be is a matter of debate, but that is why we need more holistic planning and advocacy than we currently have. And the current lack of funding and the 750 mile rule is a brick wall between us and a better passenger rail system. Why worry about having a more rational system if we don't get even a share of the pittance unless its an overnight train? More Long Distance routes are needed in the US, but so are routes under 750 miles. And there are viable routes under 400 miles that serve multiple states like Chicago to Ohio. Highway work between Columbus and Chicago are a federal concern with federal funding behind it, why shouldn't trains be treated the same way? I get that its never been that way, but that doesn't mean it should always be that way and frankly most people want that to change and there isn't a good reason to keep an arbitrary rule like the 750 mile rule when it only takes 2 states to make something meet the minimum definition of "interstate".
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,565
Location
Gator Country Florida
A train running from JAX to WDC would be less than 750 miles - so, even though it goes through 5 states and takes 14-17 hours it is less than the 750 mile rule :eek: and I am sure most who have taken that trip, by train or car, would consider it "long distance"
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
26,611
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
A train running from JAX to WDC would be less than 750 miles - so, even though it goes through 5 states and takes 14-17 hours it is less than the 750 mile rule :eek: and I am sure most who have taken that trip, by train or car, would consider it "long distance"
Wait what? Just to be pedantic, Assuming that by WDC you mean WAS, WAS is at mile 225 from NYP and JAX is at mile 977 from NYP according to Amtrak timetables. That makes the distance between the two 752 miles. 🤷‍♂️

Now if you said ALX, that would be less than 750 miles. 🤷‍♂️
 

Steve4031

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Messages
5,912
Location
Chicago
Here is a link to an article that discusses high speed rail on a world wide bases. Fact Sheet: High Speed Rail Development Worldwide | White Papers | EESI.

Here is a quote from the article:

Economic Viability. Analysts have suggested that some countries may have over-extended their HSR networks, claiming that revenues and profit margins have fallen, and cheap flights and car-sharing services may draw some customers away from rail options. The facts, however, seem to belie these warnings. In China, HSR lines have proven their profitability, and throughout Asia and Europe, HSR is providing a lower cost and shorter travel time alternative to air travel for many of the shorter routes. Advocates argue that by increasing the number of cities that have HSR hubs, the network effect will geometrically multiply the utility of HSR to travelers, and hence will provide long-term economic and lifestyle benefits for all citizens.

It is not clear whether developing HSR between some U.S. cities would stimulate their economies enough to make it sustainable in the long term. The HSR deployments in California will be watched closely by government and business leaders in other U.S. regions, who may make their financing decisions based on the perceived degree of success of California’s HSR. Despite the increases in projected costs, support for high-speed rail among Californians remains high.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jis

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,565
Location
Gator Country Florida
WAS is at mile 225 from NYP and JAX is at mile 977 from NYP according to Amtrak timetables. That makes the distance between the two 752 miles.
1607126480574.png
1607126855224.png

As can be seen, the train follows close to the same route as I-95 - The Star route may be slightly longer than the Meteor

Also, a simple Google search returned these results:

is the train journey from Jacksonville to New York? The distance between Jacksonville and New York is approximately 836 miles
How long is the train journey from Jacksonville to Washington DC? The distance between Jacksonville and Washington DC is approximately 648 miles
Doesn't that make the trip less than 750 miles 🤷‍♂️
 

brianpmcdonnell17

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2016
Messages
1,436
Location
Chicago, Illinois
View attachment 19719
View attachment 19720

As can be seen, the train follows close to the same route as I-95 - The Star route may be slightly longer than the Meteor

Also, a simple Google search returned these results:





Doesn't that make the trip less than 750 miles 🤷‍♂️
The 750 mile rule is based off of the distance traveled, not straight-line distance. The straight-line distance from Chicago to DC is 594 miles, but the CL is still an LD train.
 

Trogdor

Conductor
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
5,584
Location
Here
I suppose if someone is up to it, they could get on Google Earth (if that app still exists, or Google Maps satellite view I suppose) and trace the railroad route from Washington, DC to the Jacksonville station to see what the exact mileage is. Amtrak’s public timetable mileage isn’t always 100% accurate, and, frankly, I don’t know who actually does have a completely accurate summary of the route mileage of the system (railroad mileposts aren’t always a mile apart, sometimes slight routing realignments occur without updating timetable mileage, etc.). A few years ago, even Amtrak’s internal systems had slightly varying mileage for the same route segments. However, I doubt the mileage would be off by 50 to 100 miles, but it’s possible there could be 2-3 miles of error in there (close enough for a recount).

But, to the point above, no a Google bot answer to a question it doesn’t entirely understand doesn’t automatically make the trip less than 750 miles.


Edit: One railroad mileage calculator I have, put together by a former railroad colleague who did that very thing in order to try to reconcile the different mileage systems, puts the WAS-JAX mileage via the Silver Meteor route at 751.1 miles. I take that to be as accurate as any measure out there for the true mileage, at least as of when this was put together 10-12 years ago. I don't know if there have been any track realignments to shave off 1.2 miles of distance in the intervening years.

The point still stands and is a valid one, though. If the Jacksonville station was 2 miles further north, a hypothetical WAS-JAX train would be less than 750 miles.

On the other hand, what if you ran a through train Pontiac-Chicago-St. Louis-Kansas City. All of those routes, individually, are under 750 miles, but if you managed to string them together, it would be nearly 900 miles. If we had properly implemented 110 mph service in Illinois and Michigan, you could conceivably make the whole trip within a reasonable daytime schedule (similar to the Palmetto). So what makes Northeast-Florida deserving of federally-supported trains, but Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan have to pay for essentially the equivalent?
 
Last edited:

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,565
Location
Gator Country Florida
OK - I stand corrected ...

I followed the track for each route and measured the mapped distance. The SS route is 786 miles and the SM route is 753 miles (or somewhat close to these numbers)

However, the distance from WAS to ALX is about 8.5 miles. If you subtract that from the 753 of the SM - that would make the SM under the 750 (about 744 miles) while the SS is over the 750 mark.

So, does that make the SS a LD train while the SM is not? if you stop at ALX???


Still, most would not consider a train from Florida to DC to be a "corridor" train .. they would see it as "long distance". A good reason the rule needs changing/revising/removal
 

neroden

Conductor
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
7,957
Location
Ithaca, NY
There are some exceptions to this situation, however. Maine apparently funds the Downeasters with no contribution from New Hampshire, even though the trains make several stops in New Hampshire. I don't know whether Massachusetts contributes anything, either. The Vermonter runs a few miles through New Hampshire and makes a stop in Claremont, but as far as I know, gets no financial contributions from the State of New Hampshire. I don't know whether any of the Michigan services get any financial support from either Illinois or Indiana, even though the train passes through and makes stops in both states. It's also not clear whether the Lincoln service gets any support from Missouri, even though the train serves St. Louis or the Hiawathas get any support from Illinois.
Two of those examples are *de minimus*, as they say; the Vermonter serves New Hampshire only incidentally while serving Vermont, and the Lincoln Service serves St. Louis in order to serve its Illinois customers.

The Michigan services receive no support from Indiana or Illinois; Illinois is, again, served for the purpose of benefiting Michigan -- but the state of Michigan *is* annoyed by Indiana's freeloading.

Massachusetts does help support the Downeaster in various ways, and New Hampshire doesn't, and New Hampshire's freeloading is a sore point for both Maine and Massachusetts which causes endless friction.

So the few examples where states fund freeloader states (Indiana and New Hampshire being the two freeloaders) are creating endless friction and frustration and anger.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,036
So, does that make the SS a LD train while the SM is not? if you stop at ALX???
No. Because the Silver Meteor neither starts in Jacksonville nor ends in Alexandria.

The Palmetto, which is the shortened Silver Palm, is still long distance and ends in Savannah GA.
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
AU Supporter
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
651
Location
Denver
There are some exceptions to this situation, however. Maine apparently funds the Downeasters with no contribution from New Hampshire, even though the trains make several stops in New Hampshire. I don't know whether Massachusetts contributes anything, either. The Vermonter runs a few miles through New Hampshire and makes a stop in Claremont, but as far as I know, gets no financial contributions from the State of New Hampshire. I don't know whether any of the Michigan services get any financial support from either Illinois or Indiana, even though the train passes through and makes stops in both states. It's also not clear whether the Lincoln service gets any support from Missouri, even though the train serves St. Louis or the Hiawathas get any support from Illinois.
[/QUOTE]
[/QUOTE]
I don't know how the expenses are worked out, but the Downeasters likely would not exist had not a ready-made access into Boston been available with the MBTA.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
Messages
1,565
Location
Gator Country Florida
No. Because the Silver Meteor neither starts in Jacksonville nor ends in Alexandria.
OK - OK

I know the trains actually terminate in MIA and NYP. I was just trying to illustrate a point. A train running through 5 states from JAX to ALX [or DC] (were it to terminate in both places) would not be thought of as anything less than "Long Distance" by any normal person ... but the 750 rule could make it otherwise.

I hope that clears up the confusion ...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ziv

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
Messages
3,036
OK - OK

I know the trains actually terminate in MIA and NYP. I was just trying to illustrate a point. A train running through 5 states from JAX to ALX [or DC] (were it to terminate in both places) would not be thought of as anything less than "Long Distance" by any normal person ... but the 750 rule could make it otherwise.

I hope that clears up the confusion ...
Where should the line be between long distance and corridor?

We can agree that there is a difference between long distance and regional corridor service correct? They aren’t the same thing.

As far as your point, nobody would create a corridor between Alexandria And Jacksonville. If they wanted to do a WAS to JAX train, it would be long distance. If they wanted to do WAS to Savannah, it would be a corridor. That seems reasonable to me.
 

joelkfla

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
323
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
The HSR deployments in California will be watched closely by government and business leaders in other U.S. regions, who may make their financing decisions based on the perceived degree of success of California’s HSR. Despite the increases in projected costs, support for high-speed rail among Californians remains high.
In that case, it will be a lo-o-o-ng time before anyone makes a decision.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ziv

IndyLions

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 6, 2016
Messages
472
Location
Brownsburg IN
Where should the line be between long distance and corridor?
I love the National Network. Heck, that's all I can ride because I live in freaking Indiana. Why does there have to be a line? Why can't I support an expanded National Network, the NEC, AND better Corridor services?

Regardless of its function when it was created - the 750 mile rule today is nothing more than another artificial barrier to common sense expansions of passenger rail.

I see all these arguments that seem to indicate that without the 750 mile rule, there can be no investment/expansion of the National Network. The 750 mile rule came about in 2008. All we've had since 2008 is a severely declining National Network with 0 investment. The only thing that can kill the National Network is NEGLECT - which is exactly what it has been getting since 2008.

All I'm saying is this - let's get rid of ALL barriers to passenger rail - and support all sensible maintenance and expansion of passenger rail in our country regardless of distance.
 

railiner

Conductor
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
Messages
8,678
Location
Palm Beach County
There are some exceptions to this situation, however. Maine apparently funds the Downeasters with no contribution from New Hampshire, even though the trains make several stops in New Hampshire. I don't know whether Massachusetts contributes anything, either.
The solution to this, is to make all stops south of Maine as discharge only southbound, and receive only northbound, if those states don't contribute. That way Maine passengers wanting those stops would still benefit. ,Another way would be to charge a higher fare over those segments, perhaps even equal to the first stop in Maine. If it is found that the local out of state traffic benefits the train, they could just keep as is.
 

41bridge

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 9, 2016
Messages
26
It’s interesting to note that the Capitol Ltd. just missed the cutoff. The Amtrak timetable cards it at 780 miles.
 
Top