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   Things are looking up for Amtrak nationally - and in the Empire State. For those who don't know it, the Rensselaer Amtrak station serving New York's Capital District is among the top ten busiest - and things are getting busier.

   Meanwhile, for those looking for a getaway into the Adirondacks by rail, a new option is coming on line that ties in nicely with Amtrak.

    More over the jump.

   There's a couple of news stories in the Albany Times Union today that should catch the attention of railfans and travelers. In the Business Section, Eric Anderson reports that Amtrak may hit 30 million riders this year, for the first time in its 40 year history. The Capital District is seeing a good share of the increase.

Ridership on Empire Corridor trains between New York City and Albany rose 6.2 percent to 89,670. On trains between Albany and Toronto, boardings climbed 3.5 percent to 34,989 passengers. Amtrak’s Ethan Allen services to Vermont from New York City and the Capital Region saw a 5.1 percent gain to 4,076 passengers, while the Adirondack to Montreal saw a 3.7 percent gain, to 11,672 passengers. Of trains serving the Capital Region, only the Lake Shore Limited saw a decline, with ridership falling 1.9 percent to 34,810.

      And for those seeking a getaway into the mountains, a new rail service is starting up that will connect with Amtrak at Saratoga, NY. Anderson reports initial service has been delayed, but plans are calling for the first passenger trains in the new service to start July 23.

When the trains do start operating, they'll have a choice of accommodations, either a superdome car that dates from the days of Santa Fe's fabled Super Chief, or a more utilitarian bilevel coach that originally saw service on the Long Island Rail Road.

Ellis said the railroad has about 25 people involved in the startup, that it has spent more than $300,000 on the effort, and has brought in nearly $5 million worth of equipment.

The big attraction: Two of the three daily round-trips from North Creek will go the full length of the line to Saratoga Springs, where they will connect with Amtrak's Adirondack and Ethan Allen services.

       The line goes back over a century; after being operated by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad all the way up to Tahawus, it fell with the fortunes of railroading in general. Idle for a number of years, Paul Post reports in the Saratogian that the latest ongoing local efforts to find an operator to bring the line back into service have turned to Iowa Pacific. The line will be operated under the name Saratoga and North Creek Railway. Schedule, tickets and other info can be found at the SNCRR website.

      The historic North Creek Station is the place where Theodore Roosevelt arrived after an arduous journey out of the High Peaks in response to urgent messages about the declining health of President McKinley. A fast train was waiting for him at the station, along with the news that McKinley had died and he was now President. The rest is history - and it's well preserved.

    How the modern tale of the line turns out is yet to be determined - but there's a lot of effort being invested in the revival. An interesting array of cars and engines is being assembled; the route itself rolls through some beautiful scenery. The High Bridge at Hadley-Luzerne offers a spectacular view. North of Hadley the tracks run through areas that look much as they did 150 years ago.

     If you like rail travel adventures, this could become one of the more enjoyable trips in the eastern U.S. As the map linked above shows, the line runs near Lake George (in case people you are traveling with want to do more than ride trains.) North Creek is just down the road from Gore Mountain, site of a garnet mine and ski slopes. The Delaware & Hudson used to run ski trains up to North Creek in the 1930s - there are plans by the S&NC to revive them.

       And of course, I probably shouldn't need to mention the assorted hiking, camping cycling, and whitewater rafting possibilities in the area. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of minor diversions at the Saratoga end of the line - like the summer racing meet at the horse track, or the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

      If it sounds like this diary is a shameless plug for the trains and the area - well it is. I've ridden the North Creek - Hadley run twice on the previous operator, the Upper Hudson River Railroad, and I can personally testify to the pleasures of the scenery and the area. Now that the connection is being made to Amtrak at Saratoga, the experience can only get better. While I'd like this to succeed for my own personal reasons, it could also be a big boost to the local economy.

      I'm going to guess there'll be some rough edges and gaps at first. If you're intrigued enough by what I've put down here to check it out, I'd say be prepared to adapt and adjust as necessary. But, if the rail service takes off and stimulates associated development around it, this could become a very good thing for all concerned. The ticket prices - especially the day passes - look more than reasonable. I've got a friend who's going to be riding trains all day long on the opening weekend, so I'll see how it goes.

       I'm certainly planning to get up there some time this summer!

Originally posted to xaxnar on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 05:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by New York State and Community Spotlight.

Poll

The Saratoga and North Creek Railway:

2%3 votes
2%3 votes
6%9 votes
17%26 votes
17%25 votes
46%68 votes
5%8 votes
0%1 votes
1%2 votes

| 145 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (70+ / 0-)

    Thought it'd be worth getting some good news about Amtrak out and about - and the Saratoga & North Creek operation is something that deserves a wider exposure as well.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 05:22:23 PM PDT

  •  I heart trains! (12+ / 0-)

    I'm a left-coaster, but when I go to Portland or Vancouver, I'm as likely to train it as I am to drive it. Have a great time on the train every time - perfect for medium-length jaunts.


    Kevin dropped his ice cream and blames Obama? He's gone hamsher!

    by punditician on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 05:30:57 PM PDT

  •  Love it...want more (24+ / 0-)

    I'm all for any expansion of intercity rail in New York.  The one trip that I'd love to see massively upgraded is the NYC to Montreal route.

    Currently, there is one trip a day each way and it take something over 11 hours to travel the 375 miles.

    That is just pathetic.  The problem is Amtrak having to share the line with freight trains; that the route is, in the far north a single rail line for some distance and it is not electrified; and delays at the border.

    There has be some way to, at the very least, get the delays at the border resolved.

    It is incredibly sad that if the same route existed in let's say France, the same 375 miles would take less than three hours.  With the right fare structure, the two cities would be a spur of the moment day trip apart.  Imagine leaving Penn Station at 8:00am and getting into Montreal around 11:00am.

    I can dream.

    •  is there hope for NYC to Montreal with high speed? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slksfca, ExStr8, Turbonerd, Woody, TofG

      $ to DFA, none to DSCC/DCCC/DNC

      by grrr on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 05:45:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd guess there'd be some limits (13+ / 0-)

        Those mountains have a way of slowing things down. I'm not sure how fast I'd like to be going through the Red Rocks area on the old D&H line to Montreal Amtrak uses - and I don't think there are any faster routes on either side of Champlaign.

        But then, who wants to go fast through scenery like this?

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 06:12:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  what about (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bnasley, psykos, TofG

          NYC to Syracuse, then Syracuse to Montreal??  I am terrible at geography, but would that work??

          $ to DFA, none to DSCC/DCCC/DNC

          by grrr on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 08:37:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There used to be rail links that way (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bnasley, Judge Moonbox, PinHole, Woody

            I haven't checked to see lately what's still in service - but it would be a much longer route. Plus, winter service would be interesting. That route runs through some of the heaviest snow fall areas of New York State, like the Tug Hill Plateau.

            The Tug Hill Region is noted for its extremely deep snow levels in winter, situated in the center of the lake effect snow belt that flows from across Lake Ontario. This region receives the heaviest snowfall in the eastern United States. It is not at all unusual for the Tug Hill Plateau to receive in excess of 4 feet of snow in a single overnight snowstorm. You can also find patches of snow still on the ground on the heavily forested plateau well into June or later. In the winter months the Tug Hill Region is a popular center for snowmobiling and cross country skiing. In summer you will find other attractions and recreational opportunities.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 05:44:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Too big a detour. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Woody

            The line from New York to Saratoga to Montreal may be slow, but I don't see much hope for improvement by going 150 miles west to Syracuse. If Ottawa had the population to support such a servie, that might be worth pursuing.

            Greg McKendry, Linda Kraeger, Dr. George Tiller, Steven Johns. Victims of Wingnut violence

            by Judge Moonbox on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 07:24:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is a pretty big detour, but consider flying... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Woody

              You often make far larger detours than that if you're making a connection. Even with the detour, if you're going 400mph, still an easy trip. Even if you're only going 200mph, it's still not a big deal. That kind of detour is reasonable if your trains go at a reasonable speed!

              I'm sure the mountains and such make this even longer, but the distance from NYC to Syracuse to Montreal is 397mi, only 21.8% greater than the direct distance of 326mi from NYC to Montreal.

      •  Priority is NYC-Albany (11+ / 0-)

        We need to start by raising the speed of the first segment, NYC-Albany. It has enormous potential to be a successful -- that is, not money-losing -- HSR line.

        Improvements on this key segment could also benefit a bunch of conventional Amtrak trains: The Adirondack to Montreal; the Ethan Allen to Vermont; the Maple Leaf to Toronto; and the Lake Shore Limited to Cleveland and Chicago. In addition, Amtrak operates a handful of Empire Service trains that run NYC-Albany-Schenectady-Syracuse-Rochester-Buffalo-Niagara Falls. All these timetables will improve nicely when the run time from NYC to Albany gets cut by an hour or so from its present 2 hours 25 minutes.

        (One of the Empire Service trains could easily be extended to become a NYC-Buffalo-Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit route, if Amtrak had the equipment it needs. That would give the Detroit Metro area a connection to the East Coast. And it could give Cleveland a train stop during daylight hours, instead of the all-post-midnight "service" it suffers now.)

        Going HSR all the way to Montreal will come later, and it probably will come on the east (Vermont) side of Lake Champlain. But taking an hour or two out of the run could come much sooner, and that could help greatly. Currently the trains take 11 hours, putting some of the Hudson River and Adirondack scenery in the dark. Even a 9-hour trip would make things much better.

        •  how soon could you imagine this happening? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          loftT, Woody

          $ to DFA, none to DSCC/DCCC/DNC

          by grrr on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 09:40:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The biggest obstacle is the GOP, of course. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Judge Moonbox, grrr, Woody

            It's not just that they've wrecked the economy and hate the idea of passenger rail - they're determined to keep anything useful from being done that either improves Amtrak or demonstrates government can work - especially if it comes from Obama. Hence this Great Train Robbery.

            The other problem is infrastructure - improving tacks and signals, AND finding a way to deal with the numerous towns along the river the tracks run right through the middle of. It's a safety issue now and running trains at higher speeds would make it worse.

            There are places north of Albany where track speed could be brought up - more double tracking and passing sidings would help. CP Rail deserves credit for keeping the line in operation after the D&H went under; Guilford did nothing but loot the property pretty much.

            And there are places where the right of way really doesn't lend itself to HSR without some radical engineering. Take a look at the video in my post above "I'd guess there'd be some limits." It's some of the most spectacular scenery on the line.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 05:55:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  better yet, improve east-west routes (5+ / 0-)

          In my experience, the trip down the Hudson isn't too bad--the real delays and bumpy tracks are in getting to Albany from the west. Somewhere between Rochester and Albany there is a Bermuda Triangle for passenger trains where they are shunted off to the side--I suppose to make way for freight trains--and time stands still. The seasons pass. Moss grows on the tracks.

          To me, the fact that people are still using these trains shows how much demand there would be if we had decent service. High speed? How about as fast as an automobile?

          How wonderful it would be to have reasonably fast and frequent train service from Buffalo to Albany and on to New York, Boston, and Montreal! The service to Boston is especially bad now. One train a day that dumps you at South Station in the middle of the night--more often in the wee hours of the morning, because the train is  late. How many hours of tedium, anxiety, and danger, driving back and forth on I-90 in snow and ice, could be eliminated if we had useful train service!

          Sigh.

          •  When the trains move... (5+ / 0-)

            They move at a pretty good clip. I've clocked runs somewhere around 60-70mph on some parts of the trip between Albany & Rochester by timing mileposts. But, as you note, there are times when Amtrak has to sit while CSX shuffles freight trains around. That's the big problem for Amtrak any place they don't own the trackage.

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 09:11:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Improve east-west, yes-no (0+ / 0-)

            The section NYC-Albany-Buffalo has been on official maps of high speed routes since Congress first starting chattering about HSR.

            Sadly, when the Stimulus included a one-time windfall of $10 billion for rail (advertised as HSR but actually the letter of the legislation specifically called for spending on rail of various speeds), New York State was not ready to grab much of the money that fell from the sky. The Empire State seems much more ready now. But now instead of money, it's raining sh*t, because the Repubs control the House.

            But some pieces are getting into place. A notorious slow-speed section between Albany and Schenectady is being double-tracked. That one project should make a huge improvement in ontime performance. Out near Rochester another section is supposed to get a third track to allow 110-mph runs, largely as a demonstration project.

            In the second and third rounds of Stimulus grants, or re-grants, reallocating funds that the crazies in Ohio, Florida, and Wisconsin rejected, NY State did a little better overall.

            But New York's biggest prize is $300 million going to untangle Amtrak's route from the Long Island Rail Road trains heading into the city. This will improve reliability and ontime performance, and may shave 2 minutes off the Acela runs NYC-Boston.

            Upstate got a little something. A fourth track, iirc, will be constructed at the Albany-Rensselaer station to unclog the go-slows there.

            New York proposed replacing, upgrading signaling on more than half the distance NYC-Albany, but didn't get the funds. Maybe next time. (Maybe they really weren't ready, and the feds knew it.)

            There's a few other easily doable projects on the wish list. For example, MetroNorth has a storage yard off the river route, but the commuter trains moving in and out slow down all trains behind them or heading toward them. New tracks and switches there could shave a couple minutes off the timetable for something more than $100 million.

            Other projects are counted in billions. A new bridge over the Hudson to replace a century-old relic. Many more miles of double-tracking or more frequent 10-mile long passing tracks. For NYC-Albany we'll need electrification, and that's kind of complicated: Amtrak uses overhead wires to power trains on the Northeast Corridor; MetroNorth uses a third rail. But other trains run with dual power sources, it just takes more engineering and so costs more.

            Nothing will happen while the Repubs control the House. If the Democrats retake it in 2012, needed funds could start to flow. Under current law, federal funds would cover 80% of the upgrades, and the states would need to find the 20% match. It remains to be seen if Gov Cuomo will like rail improvements when he has to pay for part of them.

            But within a year or two from now we'll be seeing benefits from the billion-dollar upgrades to St. Louis-Chicago and the half billion to be spent on Detroit-Chicago, among other already fully funded projects.

            The real-world examples will change the terms of the debate, which today is almost a battle of religious beliefs, with Democratic optimists favoring better trains, and Repub cultists hating anything Obama favors and really hating any possible successful government program or service.

             

          •  East-West, Boston-Springfield yes, but ... (0+ / 0-)

            Improvements Boston-Springfield are likely within a decade or so. The first step is actually New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, where Amtrak owns the tracks. Connecticut won about $300 million, and is putting in real money of its own, for upgrades that will turn this currently slow route into a much faster and much more frequent service, doubling ridership or more.

            The planning document describes future connections from Springfield up into Vermont, and more frequent trains Springfield-Worchester-Boston, including trains running into Boston's North Station and thence to Portland, Maine.

            Even so, the right-of-way discouragingly lacks many straight sections, so to raise speeds (thereby paving the way, if I may use that phrase, for more frequent trains) would require much use of eminent domain to straighten curves, inciting the NIMBYs, and it would in no way be cheap.

            But the route Springfield-Boston is easy street compared to the twisting mountainous line Springfield-Albany. (It takes 6 hours now, iirc.) That planning document makes NO mention of future services there. So expect that the transportation planners and budget makers will find numerous better places to spend rail money before they try to blast a fast way thru the Berkshires.

            Sorry about that, but just trying to keep it real.

        •  But South of Poughkeepsie, HSR impossible (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Judge Moonbox, Woody

          There's all that Metro North traffic. Which is what slows down the Empire Service runs. When Amtrak goes off schedule at rush hours, trains get caught behind the Metro North locals. There are no options, because there are no other tracks.

          And not sure where, real estate wise, a third high speed rail would fit.

          And there would be a lot of engineering to make HSR safe along the Hudson all the way along the route. Because access to the river, for the most part, requires crossing over the tracks. And there would be many dangerous crossings for every little community.

          Right now, no one who takes trains from Albany to NYC on a regular basis would willingly book a train that didn't originate in Albany. Because if they originate further north, they're always late.

          And my sympathies to those of you in those communities suffering the lateness.

    •  it's mostly the border (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, Woody

      Did it a couple months ago and we hardly waited for other trains (unlike trips I did 8-10 yrs ago). Border still took 2-3 hrs. On the way back we were so ahead of schedule we had to wait an hour in Albany.

      •  Yes - there's talk of the customs problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Judge Moonbox

        The American side is supposed to be worse than getting into Canada. I'm sure things could be improved a lot if Customs had the resources - and the desire - to make it so. Passports and photo IDs are a must. Still beats airport insanity.

        Chuck Schumer has proposed making things worse in the name of fighting terrorism. Sigh. Having the government treat EVERYONE like a terrorist is one of the goals of terrorism.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 09:19:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There used to be preclearance inspection stations. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Woody

          Montreal's Central Station and Vancouver's Pacific Central Station have areas that can be turned into preclearance inspection stations, like at Canada's 7 major airports where you have to clear customs before you're allowed to board. I think the issue is volume of traffic--ICE doesn't want to staff stations that don't have a sufficient volume. It would go much faster if they did.

          Greg McKendry, Linda Kraeger, Dr. George Tiller, Steven Johns. Victims of Wingnut violence

          by Judge Moonbox on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 06:54:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Montreal... yes! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, Woody

      A few years ago, a friend suggested a weekend getaway, and I had the mistaken belief that there was still a nice train ride up to Montreal. Nope.

      I'd been hoping for an evening or overnight train out of Boston or NYC to Montreal. Maybe a couple stops in VT? Wouldn't that be something? The tourism ads would practically write themselves.

      Apocalypse? I'd prefer Wax Lips.

      by dryfoo on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 09:12:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Come on up! (7+ / 0-)

    That's my neck of the woods (Saratoga, anyway)... how wonderful to get some good conection service going out of the Saratoga station.

    And I had wondered about ridership from Albany to Penn Station - recent trips have seemed more crowded than usual.

    "I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong." - Abraham Lincoln

    by Word Alchemy on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 06:08:05 PM PDT

  •  New York to Binghamton to Buffalo. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bogbud, Woody, grrr

    The train service I'd like to see in NYS is the old Erie Lackawanna line to Binghamton, Elmira, and Buffalo. The first real train ride I can remember was from Endicott to Newark, where we connected to Atlanta. It was thrilling when I was 7, and it hasn't lost the thrill.

    I don't have the statistics on how such a line would do, and NYS parochialism insured that the line through the Catskills was preserved while the line through Scranton was abandoned--that damaged the potential more than a little. Also, Broome County was one of the biggest population losers in the 1990s. I still would like to see this line considered for a restoration of service that ended in 1970.

    Greg McKendry, Linda Kraeger, Dr. George Tiller, Steven Johns. Victims of Wingnut violence

    by Judge Moonbox on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 07:58:48 PM PDT

    •  I dunno... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, Judge Moonbox

      ... seems like SUNY-B and beyond could support at least a few extra cars around the holiday times, etc. Send one up the susquehanna to Oneonta / Delhi and another up to Ithaca.  After this weeks news of Shortline's quick way service, damned if I'll use them again for a while!

      We'll Give when we GetEQUAL!

      by bogbud on Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 08:20:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i like the way they have changed pricing so that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Judge Moonbox, TofG, Woody

    if you book early you can get a ride from rhinecliff to penn station for $25 which makes the trip down to poughkeepsie unnecessary to save money.

  •  Ya know.... (5+ / 0-)

    When I lived in Vermont, I used the Rensselaer Amtrak station all the time for trips out west (the Broadway Limited to Chicago to hook up with various superliners to Texas and/or the west coast) and to get to New York City (for fun/business there or to catch the 'Silver' trains to the south).
    When I first started using the station it was a pretty sleepy little depot, but it has become a much larger, really quite nice and efficiently bustling station.
    Glad to see there's more good news from Amtrak.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 05:52:26 AM PDT

  •  Any rational person knows (13+ / 0-)

    that high speed rail is the future of transportation. Of course, there aren't enough rational people in Washington to make this happen on a nationwide scale. Why is America in the ditch again?

    Obviously the Saratoga and North Creek Railway sounds great, and also sounds like progress. I would also like to see this rail line become a high speed one, along with the rest of the nation.

    No serious green energy revolution can take place without a transportation infrastructure where high speed rail is the norm. Trains are fuel efficient, you don't have to worry about snow or other wintry weather derailing (pardon the pun) your trip, and to top it off you don't have to worry about TSA sex offenders groping you or your loved ones.

    I'm a Mainer, and I WANT MY STATE BACK!!!

    by The Truth Shall Set Ye Free on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 06:26:58 AM PDT

    •  Well said and recced. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, TofG, Woody

      Spray tons of carcinogens into the ocean to hide petroleum spewed from a hastily-drilled hole from a greedy corporation, but don't smoke pot. -xxdr zombiexx

      by DontTaseMeBro on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 08:47:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I propose a road-busting corporation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox, Woody

      Let's buy up and privatize as many roads as possible. Let's funnel lots of money into lobbyists so we can eventually buy the Interstate system, as well as con gullible Republican-governed states into selling us their entire roadway systems.

      Then, let's add an inconvenient toll every 5 miles, while we build a massive high-speed rail network that everyone will suddenly want to use!

  •  Great news. Here in SWVA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Judge Moonbox, Woody

    Roanoke has begun a bus service to Lynchburg, about 1.25 hours away and the nearest Amtrak station. Ironic that we need this, because Roanoke is one of 3 Norfolk Southern hubs in the south and trains/tracks are everywhere. Still, the bus keeps us from having to take a ton of time/gas to trip each other to lynchburg (and to pick back up) when we want to train it to DC/NYC. If the bus service stays busy, they will use that to justify extending Amtrak service to Roanoke, which will then bring Christiansburg/Blacksburg (think Virginia Tech and it's 40k students/workers) into play as a customer base.

    "However, I don't think that critiquing one precludes praising the other" - The Troubador

    by GoGoGoEverton on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 06:29:16 AM PDT

  •  Good news and Best Wishes (5+ / 0-)

    to the Empire State and their Amtrak improvements.

    My many happy excursions on Amtrak have occurred in the Western half of the U.S.  I have traveled all over ns&w of Chicago.  I can tell that business is picking up.  I have to book quite early to get my sleeper reserved.

    I have met and chatted with some of the absolutely most fascinating people while riding on the train; scientists, filmmakers, writers, political activists, people from all over the world.  And lots of railfans (they're the quiet ones with the hand-held radios w/earbuds and maps).  The passing scenery is unbelievable--you ride right through the middle of the nation's most gorgeous countryside.

    I love riding the train.  It is shameful that our nation has not invested more in this wonderful resource.  

  •  Good news and good diary. (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for putting it all together, and thanks to the Community Spotlight folks for bringing it to my attention.  Republished to the New York State group to "pay it forward"...

  •  Tipped and Rec'd from Oklahoma! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Judge Moonbox, Woody

    Where I wish we had more passenger rail to get around the near and far towns we have around here!

  •  A route from Pennsylvania to NY via NJ (6+ / 0-)

    would probably end global warming (only slightly kidding) For the past 30 years when I've traveled 287/87 through NJ I've witnessed the massive bumper to bumper traffic all the way to the Penn bridge. Morning and evening commuter traffic. I'm always moving in the direction counter to it so I get to see it all. I guess it's much cheaper to live in PA but what a price is paid nonetheless.

    It's a sad thing to see the wasted fuel not to to mention the wasted lives of the person in each car for hours and hours every work day.

    Any chances for a train south?

  •  It's not me or anyone I know who will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samddobermann

    be taking advantage of this growth.  The towns along the way in the north country will benefit greatly with the growth of tourism that it hasn't seen since the 1930's.

    This is great news for New York and particularly for the railroad but unless some things change within the management of Amtrak, the growth and enjoyment of it will dwindle quickly.


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 08:45:32 AM PDT

    •  What do you mean? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TofG

      Your statements make me curious.

      •  There are safety issues that (0+ / 0-)

        are apparently ignored by management even when the company gets sued.

        I tried to find a couple of examples of these issues, but it appears that Amtrak has an exemplary record of safety if you're to believe what they're saying.

        I know for a fact that it was common practice for the engineers to park their train and disable the crossing gates so that traffic could flow across the tracks while they were parked there.

        In February of 2005, a Fonda woman was killed when her car was struck by a train as she crossed the tracks that had the gates and lights disabled.

        They're still doing that.


        The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

        by nupstateny on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 11:43:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hell, Big Bill Richardson put in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Judge Moonbox, Woody

          a "high-speed" train to Santa Fe from ABQ and some towns down and up track — without putting in any new crossing gates in the newly served areas. There were some in town.

          We knocked off 4 or 5 iirc before there was any rectification of that.

          Now because of funding cuts they have ceased to profitable and very popular week end trains.

          Welcome to New Mexico.

          I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

          by samddobermann on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 02:58:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I grew up on the ADKs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Judge Moonbox

    And now I live in the capital district... how the heck is this the first I've heard of this?

    •  Because.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TofG, Judge Moonbox

      Something logical like building on existing infrastructure and tying it into other systems to create synergy and an investment in the future isn't considered news. Who pays attention to sanity these days?

      Seriously, it's considered a local news story and gets treated as such by the media. No sex, no blood, so who cares?

        I hope once the trains start running, there will be more attention in the news. It'd be even better if they could get national attention in some way. Might be worth sending a few emails at the networks to see if anyone wants to bite on a story about rail travel making a comeback. High Speed Rail is important - but so is this kind of rail development.

          Although passenger trains between Saratoga and North Creek are intended to be a big tourism draw, I'm pretty sure some freight operations would not be unwelcome. The line used to have a branch at Thurman that went right to Warrensburg; the bridge over the Hudson is still there. If it's salvageable, could that branch be rebuilt? It'll be interesting to see. If fuel prices keep going up, trains have real advantages over trucks.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 09:32:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I love trains! (6+ / 0-)

    When my first grandchild was born I traveled from Springfield, Mass. to Charleston, South Carolina.

    Both experiences were great!

    "Power is a fleeting thing. One day your souls will be required of you." Bishop Peter Storey---Central Methodist Mission, Johannesburg, June 1981

    by lyvwyr101 on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 09:16:59 AM PDT

  •  How about some money (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, Judge Moonbox, Woody

    To reopen the Old Forge - Saranac Lake - Lake Placid run on the Adirondack Scenic Railway. Currently you can go from Utica to Old Forge and Saranac Lake to Lake Placid, but the section form Old Forge to Saranac Lake needs to be rebuilt.

  •  Hey, don't forget about us in WNY (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, Judge Moonbox, Woody

    When it comes to finding, Albany always wins and WNY gets the short end of the stick, federal and state.

    I think the Federal rail plans really shortchanged upstate NY. Nowhere near the amount of money commensurate to the population up here.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 10:29:41 AM PDT

    •  See above but also Upstate can benefit ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      My comments above speak to this a bit.

      Let me add that studies show that big population centers generate big ridership figures. Think of it like gravitational pull from various celestial bodies. And NYC is like the Sun. So the cold hard analysis forecasts that NYC-Albany gets huge traffic on any HSR line, NYC-Syracuse somewhat less, NYC-Rochester a good bit less, NYC-Buffalo not so good, and NYC-Eire, PA, just looks bad.

      But one day we will have HSR along the current route of the Lake Shore Limited -- NYC-Albany-Buffalo-Cleveland-Toledo (connection to Detroit)-Chicago. Try to be patient as it gets upgraded one stretch at a time -- starting with NYC-Albany. And keep in mind that cutting half an hour out of Albany-NYC also cuts half an hour out of Syracuse-NYC, Rochester-NYC, and so forth.  

      Meanwhile there will be an acceleration of upgrades to improve service all along the Lake Shore Limited corridor. That is already a popular long distance route for Amtrak. It's very full and urgently needs more equipment. Then cutting out an hour here, a half hour there, and another half hour down the road will attract more and more riders between the many intermediate cities, as well as cutting labor costs and using equipment more efficiently.

      As soon as Amtrak can get more cars and locomotives, this route could easily carry another train or two. The current Chicago-Albany-NYC/Boston configuration has the train split at Albany and the cars to Boston are de-hitched from the main train going to NYC. It could easily become two separate trains, NYC-Chicago and Boston-Chicago, allowing a second stop in every station west of Albany, with the new Boston train ideally scheduled about 8 or 10 hours later than the Lake Shore Limited. That way cities that only get "service" after midnight -- yeah, I'm talking about Cleveland, but the schedule in Buffalo ain't so great either -- could gain daylight service.

      A third train could run from NYC thru the Empire Corridor and on to Cleveland and Toledo. Turning there to reach Dearborn-Detroit-Pontiac (with connections to Ann Arbor-Battle Creek-Kalamazoo-Chicago) would restore the long lost link between the huge Detroit metro area and the East Coast, while bringing more frequent trains to Upstate New York.

      To make any dreams of an Amtrak improved come true, Amtrak will need to purchase more than 1,000 new coaches, diners, sleeping cars, etc. So any real progress is delayed until after the Repubs lose control of the House. Sadly, it's simple as that.

      •  It's just a personal gripe (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xaxnar

        Albany got over a billion in funding to jumpstart the microchip and bioinformatics sectors that brought good economic growth. Buffalo got a Bass Pro with state funding (literally, the only state money given for a business project) and even that went downhill. Since I came here 8 years ago, there hasn't been a single investment in an improved economy in Buffalo. No infrastructure (bridge to Canada, sorely needed), no nothing.

        People in WNY don't really want to get to Cleveland or the Midwest as much as they want to link up with Toronto. This is the 8th most populated region in the world within a 70 mile radius. Rochester & burbs 1.2 million, Buffalo and Niagara Falls 1.5 million, SE Ontario and Hamilton 1 million, Toronto 6 million: we're talking about over 10 million people living within 70 miles of Buffalo. And yet Buffalo doesn't even have a regular train station. The population up here dwarfs that around Albany.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 02:18:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Now they just need a good Albany/Saratoga route (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, Judge Moonbox

    that doesn't wind circuitously through Schenectady. Then they could get a commuter train along that heavily traveled route.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 10:38:27 AM PDT

  •  I Remember The Rensselaer Stn Well. (0+ / 0-)

    Back when I was attending SUNY Albany in the 80s. Getting there from Albany was a pain in the neck -- why a train doesn't just come into Downtown Albany is beyond me. This is the worst part about taking Amtrak to the Capital District -- at least the bus takes you right there.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 12:07:52 PM PDT

  •  Can we ban cell phones first? Before train rage... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    ...happens.

    People yelling their personal business into cell phones have turned what was a pleasant trip along the lovely Hudson River into an expensive, miserable, torture chamber.

    And don't say Quiet Car. There is no such thing for people going to and from any of the stops south of Albany. They divide riders going north into cars for their towns. And they only open certain cars at each stop going South to take in passengers.

    Why can't there be a Talk Car?

    Like Smoking Cars of old. Where all the people who want to do it have to be in one designated space? Since there are no Cafe Cars to and from Albany, why can't all the talkers sit in there?

  •  The Cascade Route in WA and OR Grew 10%! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Judge Moonbox, Woody

    to 838, 251!  Amtrak Cascades Ridership Grew 10% in 2010

    This has become a very popular route, with many trains between Seattle and Portland sold out.

    Most of the scheduled runs operate Talgo coaches.  These have only one set of trucks per coach, instead of the usual two.  I'm only one block from the tracks, and these trains are so light and fast there is very little disruption when they go by.  

    This run will only get better as the money dedicated to high-speed rail improves the corridor and adds trains.

  •  I want High Speed rail from NYC to Buffalo (0+ / 0-)

    so I can buy season tickets for my UB Bulls !!!!!

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Fri Jul 15, 2011 at 03:16:24 PM PDT

  •  Use Trains to Move People in Daytime Freight at (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    Night.  Back in the middle 80's, I spent three weeks working in the suburbs of London.  I was immediately struck by how busy the tracks were.  Passenger trains all day, and freight trains all night.  

    This makes so much sense, it could never happen in this country.

  •  I love trains and always have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar

    My favorite book as a child was Trains, Tracks and Travels.

    I knew all the engines and where they were used. I took the trains to Summer camps in upper State NY in 1946 and '47 from the city but I don't recall where they were!

    When we moved to Miami in 1947 we went by train — whoowee!

    Then every summer I got to go to summer camp in the western Carolinas or Northeast Georgia via the Florida East Coast RR line. All those little towns are now one homogenized trainless strip.

    Train trip memories highlight my life. The longest trip I took was from SF-Oakland to Chicago (51 hrs 20 min) then after a night to Miami Florida about 23-24 hours.

    Good times, good food. ...
    Wish I could go again.

    I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

    by samddobermann on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 01:12:31 PM PDT

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