Surfliner Electrification Idea: "The Hand-Me-Down Cycle"

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The Surfliner being straightened is great for increased speeds; But apparently, I've heard recently that Amtrak is not considering the electrification, it's just the wants of some commuters the Surfliner serves. So let's say Amtrak goes along with it, this is where I have some thoughts.
The electrification could maintain the Surfliner cars if we used high catenaries as India does on some of its freight and passenger lines. This allows us to get some early ridership before a new model is brought to attention; This idea, however, is the least possible in my opinion considering the costs of a first-ever high catenary line in the US would be.
The next idea is what I like to call the "Hand-Me-Down Cycle." So zooming out into the country we have Acela replacements with Avelia, Arizona getting a commuter line (Tucson-Phoenix-Buckeye), and the Surfliner straightening and (hopefully) electrification. To get the cycle going the SC-44 Chargers and Surfliner sets can simply be moved to Arizona for usage there, just needing a new coat of paint and an updated interior. This gives us the service a lot quicker until we can get a more permanent service on the line along with reducing costs for new trains. Now on with the Surfliner, since it's being electrified, the tall cars may not be able to fit and high catenaries would be seen as not an option. So we can move the original Bombardier Acela trains to serve the Surfliner, just needing new paint and interiors. Bringing the Acela over to the Surfliner route would allow for better speed potential since it goes along with the straightening of the route. The Acela would also be a great way of introducing faster speeds to California and promoting more modern trains on both coasts. Even if the Acela does not reach its max speed, I believe it will still be a big hit and provide excellent service to those in SoCal.
 

TinCan782

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The Pacific Surfliner tracks are owned by the North County Transit District (San Diego), Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Orange, LA and part of Ventura County), BNSF and Union Pacific.
The trains state-supported and coordinated by LOSSAN.
Electrification sounds good but, several players have to be brought on board.
 
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Cal

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My dream for the Surfline is not for it to become electrified, but for service to increase considerably to rival the NEC (although probably less trains, it only serves two major cities instead of four). We don't need electrification to get speeds up, the Chargers can do 125. However the Surfliner cars and superliners can't, so we'd need the new venture sets (Why aren't the Capitol and Surfliner getting them, especially when the San Joaquin is?). Since that is far off, the best we can hope for is to straighten the Surfline out (around Sorrento Valley and north of LA) so we can get speeds consistently to 90, and even up to 110 which would be much easier to ask from the other parties and would still help trip times.
 

zephyr17

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Well, its owned by 2 different railroads, UP and BNSF, and 2 different transit agencies, SCRRA (Metrolink) and NCTD (Coaster).

Amtrak is not the decision maker. Both transit agencies decide to electrify, and would have to convince the railroads to go along. I doubt UP or BNSF want to have caternary on their ROW even if they don't have to pay for it or maintain it.

Metrolink operates on a lot of miles of railroad right of way, not just their own. The "91" line is on BNSF. The Riverside line is on UP. Unless the railroads also electrify, that means Metrolink would have to maintain both electric and diesel engines.

Probably a non starter, and remember, Amtrak is not at all in the driver's seat here.
 

Cal

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Metrolink operates on a lot of miles of railroad right of way, not just their own. The "91" line is on BNSF. The Riverside line is on UP. Unless the railroads also electrify, that means Metrolink would have to maintain both electric and diesel engines.
Having an electrified line doesn't mean they have to get electric engines, I mean MARC still operates diesel engines under the wires on the NEC.
 

zephyr17

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Having an electrified line doesn't mean they have to get electric engines, I mean MARC still operates diesel engines under the wires on the NEC.
Well, yes, but my real point is that these are SCRRA's lines. NEC is Amtrak's and MARC operates on it. It is the other way around in Southern California, Amtrak is a tenant on SCRRA's line. Why would SCRRA electrify their line if they would not take advantage of it and operate electric? Why would they do it for only for tenant that operates fewer trains than they do and not use it themselves? That leads directly to operating both electric and diesel. Maintaining two fleets undermines the advantages of electrification.

It wasn't a technical argument about locomotive capabilities. Of course diesels can operate under wire. It is an economic argument.
 

toddinde

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Well, yes, but my real point is that these are SCRRA's lines. NEC is Amtrak's and MARC operates on it. It is the other way around in Southern California, Amtrak is a tenant on SCRRA's line. Why would SCRRA electrify their line if they would not take advantage of it and operate electric? Why would they do it for only for tenant that operates fewer trains than they do and not use it themselves? That leads directly to operating both electric and diesel. Maintaining two fleets undermines the advantages of electrification.

It wasn't a technical argument about locomotive capabilities. Of course diesels can operate under wire. It is an economic argument.
Well, I’m not convinced that electrification is the solution here, but we’ve got to get beyond the narrow interest group mindset that pervades rail project planning versus highway and aviation projects. And before we go off again about how UP and BNSF will never allow it, let me remind you that highway and aviation projects take and displace private landowners constantly; it’s called eminent domain. If Amtrak wants to electrify, there’s a process for that. One wonders what compensation there would be for a taking that doesn’t have any damages to the owner for something that has a clear public purpose and benefit. Same goes for the other transit agencies. So, these are not show stoppers; they’re steps in a defined process if Amtrak or the State of California chooses to go that way.
 
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neroden

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Metrolink has a pretty clear, if rather quiet, agenda of getting control of their own tracks; they have a lot of them already and are working on adding extra tracks to the portion of the 91 line owned by BNSF with the end goal of having three or four tracks the entire way. (Two freight tracks and one or two passenger tracks.) And similarly on the bits of the Ventura County line owned by UP. (The Riverside line is the only one where they don't seem to be working on getting passenger-exclusive or passenger-priority tracks.).

Like GO Transit in Toronto, I think they will start talking electrification once they've got the freight out of the way.
 

west point

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even if not tracks of UP & BNSF are electrified it may be some of their set out tracks will be needed for CAT . There will be those set outs for un planned breakdowns.
 

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even if not tracks of UP & BNSF are electrified it may be some of their set out tracks will be needed for CAT . There will be those set outs for un planned breakdowns.
I don't know. Unless there are shared setout tracks this should not be an issue. The electrified passenger roads would presumably have their setout tracks. And BTW you don't necessarily need them to be all wired as long as you do not get rid of all your diesel engines as we see in India. One can always shove a setout onto the track and leave it there to be picked up later by a diesel.
 
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Cal

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(The Riverside line is the only one where they don't seem to be working on getting passenger-exclusive or passenger-priority tracks
The Riverside line only has four round trips Monday through Friday and no weekend service, it's quite sad.

Do they own all of the Ventura and Antelope Valley line?
 

TinCan782

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The Riverside line only has four round trips Monday through Friday and no weekend service, it's quite sad.

Do they own all of the Ventura and Antelope Valley line?
SCRRA/Metrolink owns/dispatches the Ventura line as far as CP Las Posas (Moorpark). Beyond there (Camarillo, Oxnard, etc.) the track is owned/dispatched by UP. UP and Amtrak have trackage rights.
SCRRA also owns/dispatches the Antelope Valley line as far as Lancaster with UP having trackage rights. North of Lancaster, UP is the owner /dispatcher.
 
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zephyr17

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Metrolink has a pretty clear, if rather quiet, agenda of getting control of their own tracks; they have a lot of them already and are working on adding extra tracks to the portion of the 91 line owned by BNSF with the end goal of having three or four tracks the entire way. (Two freight tracks and one or two passenger tracks.) And similarly on the bits of the Ventura County line owned by UP. (The Riverside line is the only one where they don't seem to be working on getting passenger-exclusive or passenger-priority tracks.).

Like GO Transit in Toronto, I think they will start talking electrification once they've got the freight out of the way.
BNSF has already triple tracked much of the BNSF San Bernardino Sub the 91 line uses, largely for their own purposes. All three mains are owned and dispatched by BNSF and Metrolink controls none of them.

Unless there is enough ROW left to build another couple Metrolink tracks that Metrolink would control, I cannot see BNSF giving up control of any of the three mains. We are talking about the Western end of the Transcon and BNSF's route to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
 
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zephyr17

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SCRRA/Metrolink owns/dispatches the Ventura line as far as CP Las Posas (Moorpark). Beyond there (Camarillo, Oxnard, etc.) the track is owned/dispatched by UP. UP and Amtrak have trackage rights.
SCRRA also owns/dispatches the Antelope Valley line as far as Lancaster with UP having trackage rights. North of Lancaster, UP is the owner /dispatcher.
The Antelope Valley end of the line is kind of funny. It isn't just SP's old Saugus and Mojave Subs. Between Palmdale and Lancaster SCAX has its own track that parallels UP's Mojave Sub and is stub ended with a storage yard at Lancaster. The connection between UP's Mojave Sub and SCAX's Valley Sub (old SP Saugus Sub) is in Palmdale at UP Palmdale Jct/SCAX CP Harold.

There is no connection at Lancaster, it is SCAX End of Track.

BTW, the Valley Sub's didn't reuse the old SP Saugus Line milepost numbering from San Francisco. MP 0 is LAUS and numbering runs northward to Lancaster at MP 76.6. On the Ventura Sub, though, SCAX kept the old SP milepost numbering up to Burbank Jct.
 
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Cal

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The Antelope Valley end of the line is kind of funny. It isn't just SP's old Saugus and Mojave Subs. Between Palmdale and Lancaster SCAX has its own track that parallels UP's Mojave Sub and is stub ended with a storage yard at Lancaster. The connection between UP's Mojave Sub and SCAX's Valley Sub (old SP Saugus Sub) is in Palmdale at UP Palmdale Jct/SCAX CP Harold.

There is no connection at Lancaster, it is SCAX End of Track.
On Maps it show's its double tracked. So Metrolink owns and dispatches one of the tracks while UP owns and dispatches the other?

If so, isn't there a similar situation betweeen NS and BNSF somewhere in the midwest? I recall reading that somewhere...
 

zephyr17

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It looks double tracked, but it is two separate but close parallel tracks between Palmdale and Lancaster. One owned and dispatched by Metrolink/SCAX, the other by UP.

They don't even have the same milepost numbering scheme. The connection at Palmdale is at UP MP 414.4 and SCAX MP 67.5.

When I rode a Starlight detour, we came off the UP at Palmdale Jct and went over to SCAX there. Our UP pilot that got on in Bakersfield was qualified on both.
 

George Harris

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The electrification could maintain the Surfliner cars if we used high catenaries as India does on some of its freight and passenger lines. This allows us to get some early ridership before a new model is brought to attention; This idea, however, is the least possible in my opinion considering the costs of a first-ever high catenary line in the US would be.
This would not be a "first-ever high catenary line in the US" The Northeast Corridor has miles of contact wire 22 feet above the top of rail going back to Pennsylvania Railroad days, unless Amtrak has decided to lower it. Pantographs can be and have been built to deal with a wide range of wire heights. The wire in the Hudson River tunnels is so low that it barely meets required electrical clearance requirements above the top of the single level equipment. In other words, they can deal with a variation in wire height of over 5 feet. We would not be stepping off into the unknown to built a catenary system that would clear double stacks and be quite functional for the passenger trains.
 
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