Western US Auto Train idea

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Cal

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Original Auto Train company went under partly because it tried a new route, right? And that's a far longer journey than the current AT. I don't see it working. Maybe an LA-SF overnight service would work, but theres still the problem of equipment, loading areas, UP, and more.
 

Eric S

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Tell us more about how this service would work. What are some suggested terminal (loading/unloading) locations? What would the approximate run time be?

Also, there are probably a whole host of other threads discussing possible additional Auto Train routes. Those threads will lay out some of the reasons the existing Auto Train is, perhaps, unique, and the challenges that would need to be overcome for any additional routes.
 

jiml

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The recent burning bridge and other issues that have affected the Coast Starlight does not bode well for extra service on this route. I also wasn't aware that the major population centers in Washington were that anxious to get away from winter. Sure, Seattle may not be balmy in January and February, but it's not like Chicago, New York, Detroit or Toronto.
 

Bob Dylan

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The recent burning bridge and other issues that have affected the Coast Starlight does not bode well for extra service on this route. I also wasn't aware that the major population centers in Washington were that anxious to get away from winter. Sure, Seattle may not be balmy in January and February, but it's not like Chicago, New York, Detroit or Toronto.
I still remember the Winter in Vancouver ( which has more Sunshine than Seattle as it's protected by Vancouver Island))when we headed for the Tropics( Mexico) after the Holidays.

When my wife moved to Ottawa( Federal Employee)the Caribbean and Florida were the preferred Winter choice for Snowbirds.
 

George Harris

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Was it the Auto train wreck that did it in ?
That was a major factor. The other was huge financial loss on the Louisville to Florida attempt. While Lorton VA to Florida hit the sweet spot for this type of service in terminal locations, length of trip, demand, and near driving time speed. The Louisville service missed all of them. The demand was significantly lower, via Louisville was not on the route of most of non-Chicago area population centers, the trip length was over long, average speed was considerably lower, track conditions along the route were declining, and deciding to combine with Amtrak's Floridian further slowing the train and reducing reliability was the final straw.
 

PVD

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AutoTrain also gets by with 2 sets of equipment, a single stop overnight, and manageable duty schedules for both T&E and OBS. That is not going to exist on a trip twice the length, where it will be required to make multiple crew and service stops.
 
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Siegmund

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Arizona is a big snowbird destination -- but there isn't any one place it draws from, the way the Northeast sends people to Florida.

I think Chicago-Phoenix is a much more promising option than Seattle-Phoenix, but it's still a 36-hour trip. If you are looking for one-night ride in the west that's similar length to the current Auto-Train, Denver-Phoenix would work. (And have fun finding enough horsepower to lift that train over Raton Pass.) If you wanted to hit all of Tucson, Phoenix, and Yuma, you might have to go south Albuquerque-Deming rather than Williams-Phoenix.
 
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flitcraft

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Obviously this isn't practical in terms of routing, equipment, and need for crew. But in terms of market, I suspect that Hawaii is as much a draw for Seattle area residents looking to flee the gloom and rain as is Arizona. If Amtrak wants to expand service in the West, restoring some of the cut LD trains makes a lot more sense than making the huge investment in a Western Auto Train.
 

zephyr17

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Seattle rainbirds (not a lot of snow, but a lot of upper 30s chill, rain, wind and constant overcast) love Hawaii. Hawaii in February is really popular.
 

me_little_me

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Seattle rainbirds (not a lot of snow, but a lot of upper 30s chill, rain, wind and constant overcast) love Hawaii. Hawaii in February is really popular.
And I hear their favorite whine is "I wanna go to Hawaii!" Probably because it's better than Washington's own wines.
 

BCL

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West Coast snowbirds. Particularly Yuma and Tuscon.
I don't see it. The population centers on the west coast have fairly mild winters. I've been to Seattle when it snowed, but that was extremely rare. It was pointed out that the northern end of the current Auto Train is very close to tens of millions of people. As others said, it's more likely there would be snowbirds from the midwest than the west coast.

Also - the big centers for snowbirds would be in the Phoenix area. Tucson is less than two hours from Phoenix.

 

George Harris

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AZ Big Media sounds more like promotional salesmanship than reality. If it were to say something like, "Arizona has proven to be the state of choice for snowbirds" then it would sound more like reality than wishful thinking. For an Autotrain, we still get back to speed and reliability. No one is going to spend big money for speed and reliability of one train which will at best be marginally profitable.
 

west point

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Any mid west Auto Train has 2 obvious problems. Where is Auto train going to locate a terminal ? Somewhere south of Toledo appears to be a possible location. Then it is EQUIPMENT - equipment - Equipment. 3 times a week to every day requires 4 sets of equipment . That translates to 60 - 80 passenger cars and probably 80 - 100 car carriers + locos.

IMO the best route is Toledo area - Pittsburgh - WASH - around the CSX line to the VA avenue tunnel. Stop at Lorton for servicing then the same route to Sanford. For times both routes low loads combine separate at Lorton. The additional HEP capability of ALC-42s would probably supply 20 Superliners. However 3 locos would be needed for Lorton - Toledo area.

That amount of capital cannot be justified as there is too many less expensive regular LD routes that can serve more passengers.
 

Amtrak Apple

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I still remember the Winter in Vancouver ( which has more Sunshine than Seattle as it's protected by Vancouver Island))when we headed for the Tropics( Mexico) after the Holidays.

When my wife moved to Ottawa( Federal Employee)the Caribbean and Florida were the preferred Winter choice for Snowbirds.
Washington has such varied weather and climate. I love it.
 
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Why? Is there a great demand for travel between WA & AZ?
Yes, in fact, it's the reason Interstate 11 is being built as it will connect Interstates 80, 82, 82, and 90 all to Las Vegas and Phoenix. Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Reno is the southern half, the northern half will use US-395, I-82, and US-97. I-11 is also being built to decrease traffic on I-5 along with allowing more access to isolated cities like Reno

EDIT: The goal is to make it the 2nd interstate to touch both borders to further bonds between the 3 North American countries and once again decrease traffic on the existing facilities.
 

zephyr17

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Yes, in fact, it's the reason Interstate 11 is being built as it will connect Interstates 80, 82, 82, and 90 all to Las Vegas and Phoenix. Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Reno is the southern half, the northern half will use US-395, I-82, and US-97. I-11 is also being built to decrease traffic on I-5 along with allowing more access to isolated cities like Reno

EDIT: The goal is to make it the 2nd interstate to touch both borders to further bonds between the 3 North American countries and once again decrease traffic on the existing facilities.
Don't expect to see I 11 north of Las Vegas to Reno construction to start for at least a decade, and north of Reno for decades more (if ever).
The only section that is on the near term horizon is Las Vegas-Phoenix replacing US 93 which is kind of a "slaughter alley".

It wouldn't be built for snowbirds, it would be primarily be built for trucking. Inland PNW snowbird travel would be a side benefit.

Also, "rainbirds" from PNW population centers that don't fly and aren't going to Hawaii take I 5 to I 10 to Phoenix. Easy peasy. If they want to avoid LA, they can cut over using 138 to 15/215 to 10.

Construction of I 11 from the inland PNW in decades is no indication at all of potential West Coast Auto Train demand.
 
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neroden

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You know, I don't want an Auto Train. I just want to be able to rent a nice electric car when I get to my destination train station. Maybe I should come up with a more coherent proposal for encouraging that.
 
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