What if every LD train was an Auto Train?

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John Santos

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Most RVs have propane tanks... Would this be allowed on a train? I know you aren't allowed to bring butane (for a camping stove) or Coleman fuel in your baggage.
 

Ryan

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Not currently. (edit to add: not currently on Amtrak - obviously freight RRs haul massive tanks of HAZMAT all the time)

In the alternative universe where this is a thing? Hard to see it being a thing without it being allowed.
 

jis

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The refrigerator containers and trailers that are loaded on intermodals do have a small amount of gas to run the generator to run the refrigerator I suppose. But again, those do not involve people riding in or around them.
 

Cal

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I have an RV and go camping frequently, the RV idea would be great for me if implemented.
 

George Harris

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Sometimes it seems that nothing has the durability of a bad idea. As others have said here, the current Autotrain is a very unique market. Big markets on both ends and as near a straight and level railroad between as there is in the US. The midwest attempt was a disaster for both parties, as also was said on here. For many of the current Autotrain users they are saving 2 nights in a motel and a lot of miles and I would suspect many are 60+ and just simply do not want to do long drives. Bay Area to Reno? No and no way. Not really that long a haul, much slower rail route and heavy grades. There MIGHT be a Chicago to LA market, but to attempt to tack it onto the Southwest would be disaster for the current service, as the run time would be increased significantly. Major considerations: Load and unload times plus many miles of 79 mph and 90 mph reduced to 70 mph. If doing intermediate points add about 2 to 3 hours each.
 

jis

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Bay Area to Reno? No and no way. Not really that long a haul, much slower rail route and heavy grades. There MIGHT be a Chicago to LA market, but to attempt to tack it onto the Southwest would be disaster for the current service, as the run time would be increased significantly. Major considerations: Load and unload times plus many miles of 79 mph and 90 mph reduced to 70 mph. If doing intermediate points add about 2 to 3 hours each.
SWC would require one more consist to keep it a daily service, for which it is not clear where the additional passenger cars would come from, other than of course shortening it or some other train. They are having enough problem figuring out how to do the Pueblo jog if theat is what they do instead of just a few drop cars a La Junta that carry on to Pueblo as a short train.
 
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I suspect RVs with people riding in them would give FRA and NTSB conniptions though. 🤷‍♂️
Actually, there was at least one place that you could...until 2000, when they converted the Anton Anderson Tunnel between Portage and Whittier, Alaska into a dual use, railroad/highway tunnel, used alternately, the only way to get your vehicles into Whittier was to drive onto the Car Shuttle Train run by the ARR. Cars, buses, semi's, everything. And you remained in your vehicle for the short ride....
 

Cal

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Actually, there was at least one place that you could...until 2000, when they converted the Anton Anderson Tunnel between Portage and Whittier, Alaska into a dual use, railroad/highway tunnel, used alternately, the only way to get your vehicles into Whittier was to drive onto the Car Shuttle Train run by the ARR. Cars, buses, semi's, everything. And you remained in your vehicle for the short ride....
Videos?
 

jis

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People remain in their vehicles (cars and trucks) on the shuttle train under the English Channel and it's fairly lengthy.
Last time I looked the Channel Tunnel did not fall under the jurisdiction of the FRA. :) My comment was about the FRA. ;)

Also one more thing to note is that the Channel Tunnel is a much more controlled and contained environment with many fewer unpredictable hazards when compared to routes across the prairies with numerous unmanned crossing that allow heavy farm equipment to cross the tracks etc. etc. The two situations are very very different.
 
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Last time I looked the Channel Tunnel did not fall under the jurisdiction of the FRA. :) My comment was about the FRA. ;)

Also one more thing to note is that the Channel Tunnel is a much more controlled and contained environment with many fewer unpredictable hazards when compared to routes across the prairies with numerous unmanned crossing that allow heavy farm equipment to cross the tracks etc. etc. The two situations are very very different.
It was more a response to the post about Whittier which, although regulated by the FRA, is still more of a "controlled environment" than what you're describing.
 
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bms

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Perhaps they could run a second daily Auto Train to Sanford, originating in the New York metro area to be more convenient for passengers from New York and New England. The key would be whether that train was picking up new passengers or cannibalizing passengers from the train originating in Lorton. I'm not sure how wide a geographic area that train draws from.
 
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The AT cannot originate in NYC because the car carriers are too tall ... that is why it starts in Lorton
They could run it from Secaucus, but it would require a third trainset for the longer schedule.
And yes…it would definitely draw away business from the Lorton trains.
 

west point

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This poster suspects that once CSX gets all its clearance problems fixed including Howard street tunnel that there will be many more calls for A-T service to northern NJ. However the need to have more than 2 train sets to cover that service is a big impediment. This poster certainly does not support that kind of service.
 

bms

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They could run it from Secaucus, but it would require a third trainset for the longer schedule.
And yes…it would definitely draw away business from the Lorton trains.

Yeah I was thinking Metropark, but I'm not familiar with any of the suburban stations in New Jersey. If NYC and New England passengers are willing to drive to Virginia, then it
 
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They could run it from Secaucus, but it would require a third trainset for the longer schedule.
And yes…it would definitely draw away business from the Lorton trains.
Probably true but it would generate more business from New England and even maybe parts of Canada. Plenty of Canadian snowbirds in Florida. I can tell you from my personal experience, and talking to people in Florida, that it is the drive NORTH of Lorton that people hate. The ridiculous traffic congestion, the sky-high tolls, the crappy rest stop food, the high-priced full-serve gas stations all contribute to the unpleasantness. The 2:30 absolute check-in time doesn't help. The trip south of Lorton is the easy part although boring as hell.

Not sure if we are talking about extending the existing AutoTrain or adding a second separate service or even having a few through cars spun off at Lorton, but there definitely is a market there.
 

jis

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Yeah I was thinking Metropark, but I'm not familiar with any of the suburban stations in New Jersey. If NYC and New England passengers are willing to drive to Virginia, then it
This is all of theoretical interest at best since real estate for setting up a terminal would be frightfully expensive and no one will fund that before more urgent infrastructure on the NEC are fixed.

One might be able to get somewhat cheaper real estate for such a terminal in the South Brunswick area near CP Midway (Monmouth Junction), but that is pretty iffy too, what with NIMBY's galore who have so far successfully blocked MOM taking off from the NEC at that point.

That of course is the terminal alone. Then there is the issue of getting to that terminal from Virginia.

In short it ain't happening no matter how much people hate driving north of Virginia. The user base is not large enough to justify the funding when compared to other pressing projects competing for funding in that area.
 
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Probably true but it would generate more business from New England and even maybe parts of Canada. Plenty of Canadian snowbirds in Florida. I can tell you from my personal experience, and talking to people in Florida, that it is the drive NORTH of Lorton that people hate. The ridiculous traffic congestion, the sky-high tolls, the crappy rest stop food, the high-priced full-serve gas stations all contribute to the unpleasantness. The 2:30 absolute check-in time doesn't help.
Yup. By the time I drive 1 1/2 days to Lorton in bad weather may as well continue the rest of the way and save money. Start one anywhere in upstate New York or Detroit and there will be something to talk about.
 
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