Skip to main content

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

crossposted from Voices on the Square

Back in early June, in Putting Steel into the Amtrak Long Distance Backbone, I looked at the Amtrak "PRIIA Section 210" upgrade plans for the five Long Distance services with the lowest operating cost recovery, mandated for Fiscal Year 2010 by the PRIIA legislation.

I also looked at the side-effects of the freight-oriented Steel Interstate proposal, which would offer the opportunities for dramatic improvements in the performance of Long Distance sleeper trains ~ not simply the financial performance but also, and more importantly for addressing the Petroleum Addiction of our intercity transport system, dramatic improvement in the delivery of service to the customers.

This week I look at the "middle" five long distance routes that were reported on for Fiscal Year 2011:

  • The Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to Boston and Chicago to New York City via the Cleveland/Buffalo Erie Lakeshore route
  • The Crescent, from the "Crescent City" of New Orleans, Louisiana to New York City via Atlanta, and
  • the "Silver Services" ~ the Silver Meteor from Miami to New York via Charleston, SC, the Silver Star from Miami to New York via Tampa, Columbia, SC and Raleigh, NC, and the Palmetta from Savannah, Georgia to New York via Charleston, SC.

Ending Up In the Middle

Now, there are fifteen (15) Long Distance Trains in the Amtrak skeleton long-distance rail network (to get an idea of what a non-skeleton long-distance rail network might look like, cf. the National Association of Rail Passengers plan). How do they decide which are the worst five performers, to be studied first, the middle five, to be studied in the last Fiscal Year, and the five best, to be studied in the current Fiscal Year? Well, they measure them by a Customer Satisfaction Index, (as a percentage), On-Time Performance (as a percentage), and Operating Cost Recovery (as a percentage), take a simple average of those three percentages, and then rank them based on that.

Ranked by Cost Recovery, the best service is the Auto Train at 88%, the worst is the Sunset Ltd at 24%, and the median service is the Capital Ltd. at 48%. The worst performer is a three-trains-per-week service, and the second worst performer is the other three-trains-per-week service, the Cardinal at 35% cost recovery, so it is not surprising that the first set of reports included upgrading those two to daily service, with a total revamp of the Sunset Ltd. Route. Our five services are (rank in parentheses): the Palmetto 61% (3); Silver Meteor 49% (7);  Crescent 46% (9); Lakeshore Ltd 44% (12); and Silver Star 43% (13).

Ranked by Customer Satisfaction surveys, the best service is again the Auto Train at 84%, the worst is the Cardinal at 66%, and the median service is the Crescent at 76%. Our five services are: the Crescent 76% (8); the Silver Star 75% (9); the Silver Meteor 74% (11); the Palmetto 72% (12); and the Lakeshore Ltd 70% (13). On balance, it is relatively low ranking Customer Satisfaction scores that have pulled services down into this group that otherwise might be in the top five.

The operating conditions of daily long distance trains running over hosted freight railroad track, often in single track corridors, and normally far away from back up locomotives or other equipment means that the shining star in terms of On Time Performance is the Auto Train at a mediocre 82, with all other services arrayed out across a range of disappointing, such as the median Lakeshore Ltd. at 58%, through to abysmal, such as the Texas Eagle which brings up the rear with an appallingly bad OTP of 18%. Our five services tend to be in the "bad, but not as bad as many others" group: the Crescent 67% (3); the Silver Meteor 66% (4); the Lakeshore Ltd 58% (8); the Palmetto 52% (9); and the Silver Star 45% (10). On balance, it is On Time Performance being less bad than the worst that slots these five above the five lowest ranking Long Distance services.

The Crescent Service: Georgia On My Mind

The Crescent Service is an example of of a corridor with the transport demand to one side much larger than the transport demand to the other ~ and also the challenge of running a sleeper service over an 18hr route. From NYC, it operates as a sleeper to Atlanta, arriving at 8:13am from 2:15pm start in NYC the previous day. It then runs as a day service from Atlanta to New Orleans, arriving at 7:32pm. In the reverse direction, it leaves New Orleans at 7am and runs as a day train, arriving in Atlanta at 7:35pm, and then as a sleeper to NYC, arriving in New York at 1:46pm after an 8pm departure from Atlanta.

At present, with 52% percent of passengers traveling only on the northern segment and 23% of passengers traveling through Atlanta, the Crescent is capacity-constrained on the 18hr Atlanta-NYC side of its trip, limiting opportunities to earn additional revenue. However, it generally has surplus capacity on the 12hr Atlanta / New Orleans side of its route, with only 21% of passengers traveling exclusively within the southern segment.

Given that the train arrives in Atlanta arond 8am and leaves 8pm, it would be very appealing to take advantage of this imbalance by splitting the train at Atlanta. With a single set of extra cars capable of operating as a corridor service, this could a service that runs to Macon or Columbus, GA and turn back the same day. With two sets, it could be a service that runs Macon / Savannah / Jacksonville and turns back the following day.

However, this is not a viable strategy at present. The problem is that the original main Atlanta stations, Atlanta Union and Atlanta Terminal, were demolished in 1972, and Amtrak presently operates out of what was originally a local commuter platform, Brookwood Station, several miles north of Downtown. The only access between the station building and the platform below are steep steps and an elevator, with the elevator accessed across a mainline freight track. Brokkwood has not parking, does not offer ADA compliant access, and cannot accommodate connecting buses ~ either local or intercity.

Even worse, the narrow single platform on a passenger rail siding between Norfolk Southern's two mainline tracks:

For safety reasons,
freight trains are held out of the station when Amtrak trains are stopped there. This means that Amtrak trains and equipment cannot occupy the station tracks for extended periods for switching or servicing. (p. 25)
What Amtrak can do is cut a set of cars off the southbound train to New Orleans in the morning, shift them off to a siding, and then add them back to the northbound train in the evening. Under the plan, a fifth coach would be added to the train north of Atlanta, with a lounge and two to three coaches cut off the train in Atlanta (two during the peak demand period, three during the off-peak demand period). So this is the first proposed PRIIA improvement. This change is projected to increase revenue by $1.2m from 38,300 new passengers, and reduce operating costs by $0.3m.

This leads directly into the second upgrade, which is to add dedicated connecting Thruway bus services: from Atlanta to Macon and Columbus, GA; from Atlanta to Chattanooga, TN; from Birmingham to Montgomery, AL; and from Meridian to Jackson, MS. The obstacle to putting these into place at present is the fact that much of the demand for these services are to points north of Atlanta, and the Crescent does not have the capacity to serve this new demand. The five Thruway buses are projected to generate $3.7m additional revenue, at an additional cost of $2.6m, for a revenue gain of $1.1m.

The remaining PRIIA change is a re-allocation of sleeper space used by crews so that they are in a single section of eight dormettes on the front of one sleeper trains, leaving the balance of bedrooms and roomettes in that car and the entire second sleeper car to be served by a single sleeper car attendant.

The "Silver" Routes

The "Silver Meteor" is the quasi-Express service between New York and Miami, running along the faster coastal alignment between Richmond and Savannah, GA, and running from Orlando to Miami without a detour to Tampa. The "Silver Star" is the quasi-local service, running through Raleigh NC and Columbia SC between Richmond and Savannah, and running from Orlando to Tampa and then backing out again to run down to Miami.

The Palmetto is a day corridor service that runs the northern portion of the Silver Meteor route, leaving NYC at 6:15am, DC at 9:55am, Richmond at 12:02pm, Charleston SC at 7:15pm and arrives at Savannah at 9:03pm. It returns the following morning at 8:20am, leaving Charleston SC at 10am, Richmond at 5:25pm, DC at 7:57pm, and NYC at 11:47pm.

The Silver Star leaves NYC at 11:02am, Raleigh at 9:16pm, as a sleeper to Jacksonville at 6:55am, Orlando at 10:31am, Tampa at 12:45pm, and Miami at 6:05pm. It leaves Miami late the following morning at 11:50am, Tampa at 5:17pm, Orlando at 7:24pm, Jacksonville at 10:37pm, as a sleeper to Raleigh at 8:54am, NYC at 7:18pm. So in both directions it is a day corridor NYC/Raleigh, a sleeper Raleigh/Jacksonville, a day corridor Jacksonville/Orlando/Tampa, and a day corridor Tampa/Miami.

The Silver Meteor leaves NYC at 3:15pm, DC at 7:30pm, as a sleeper to Savanna at 6:50am, Orlando at 12:25pm, and Miami at 6:55pm. It leaves Miami at 8:20am, Orlando 1:35pm, Savanna 7:38pm, as a sleeper to DC at 7:21am, and NYC at 11:06am. So in both directions, it is a day corridor NYC/DC, a sleeper DC/Savannah, and a day corridor Savannah/Orlando/Miami. The portion of its route that it passes late at night receives service to the NEC from the Palmetto.

There is no substantial improvements found for the basic underlying "Silver" route system. As the Silver Meteor had frequently sold out in the summer peak demand period, Amtrak has already added a coach to the Silver Meteor during the summer peak demand period, by reducing the number of cars out of service during this peak. As existing coaches in the NEC regional are replaced by new 125mph capable coaches, this might be be made out of available equipment rather than by juggling service schedules.

The improvements proposed include adding Quantico VA to one of the Silver service trains, and Fredericksburg VA to the other. Thruway buses are proposed to connect the Palmetto at Wilson NC, enroute between Raleigh and Richmond, to Morehead City via Greenville and to Wilmington via Goldsboro. An existing Thruway route from Jacksonville to Lakeland, on the route of the Palmetto before it was cut back, will get a relocated stop at the University of Florida in Gainesville and a new stop in The Villages between Ocala and Wildwood. And the many stations along the "Silver" service routes that are in a state of disrepair or with layouts that interfere with cart-based luggage management are proposed to be brought into a state of good repair in cooperation with their local owners.

The major changes that were considered for these routes were not possible due to the needs for additional equipment or capital spending. One is to run to Miami along the Florida East Coast railroad alignment, which is a faster alignment between Jacksonville and Miami than the one presently used by the Silver Meteor. The operation on the FEC corridor would require additional passenger cars, as it would be a split train service at Jacksonville, would require substantial improvements on the FEC corridor to provide the needed capacity, and would require running on State of Florida owned right of way in south Florida, which is a problem because the Florida DOT is forbidden to enter into a liability sharing agreement which Amtrak generally needs to have in place.

A second is a Chicago/Florida train, combining the Capital Ltd from Chicago to DC via Pittsburgh with the Silver Star route through to Orlando. The lost connection Jacksonville/Tampa and Tampa/Miami would be made up by extending the Palmetto to Tampa and Miami. While the Chicago/Florida service would increase revenues and increase operating cost recovery, it would increase operating costs by more than operating revenues, and so would require additional operating subsidies, and runs into liability problems running on the portion of the Orlando corridor now owned by the State of Florida.

The third is a reroute of the Silver Star between Raleigh NC and Columbia SC to run via Charlotte and Greensboro, NC. Re-routing the Silver Star via Charlotte and Greensboro, NC, would require a new connection between the Norfolk Southern track from Charlotte through to Columbia and the CSX track that serves the Columbia SC station and connects to the remainder of the route, and in addition to other capital investment required, this alternative requires a substantial capital investment in order to make the increase in patronage, revenue, and reduction in operating subsidy available.

The Lakeshore Limited

The Lakeshore leaves NYC at 3:45pm for Albany at 6:25pm, and Boston at 11:55am for Albany at 5:35pm, scheduled out of Albany at 7:05pm. As you can see, substantial leeway for delays are scheduled into the Boston/Albany leg of the split service. From Albany it operated as a night train to Buffalo at 11:55pm and a sleeper to Chicago at 9:45am, with early morning service at Toledo and morning service at Waterloo and South Bend, Indiana. It leaves Chicago at 9:30pm, runs as a sleeper to Buffalo at 9:08am, leaving Albany at 3:25pm for Boston at 9:10pm and Albany at 3:50pm for NYC at 6:35pm.

The Lakeshore is one of the trains that I can hear whistling through my small town in northeast Ohio ... if I am up very late, since runs into Cleveland westbound between 3am and 4am in the morning.

The Lakeshore is a service that used to leave Chicago at 7pm. However, in 2007, under the pressure of the delays to Western trains, with passengers missing their 7pm connection, and to the eastbound Lakeshore, which delayed the westbound, it was rescheduled to 10pm. An earlier departure from Chicago with an earlier arrival at Boston and NYC would be more attractive for direct passengers, and would also offer better connections in those cities.

However, pushing the departure back to 7:00pm would introduce problems at Penn Station. At present, when a Lakeshore is running late, that pushes its arrival out of the trailing shoulder of the evening rush hour and into the off-peak period after the evening rush. Moving the arrival up by 2:30 means that it would be scheduled to arrive at 4:05pm. Then if it was running late, that would push it into an unscheduled arrival during the evening peak.

So Amtrak's proposed solution is a swap. The Lakeshore would leave 3:30 earlier, at 6pm. The Capital Ltd, from Chicago to DC via Pittsburgh, would leave at 7:30pm. This would increase patronage and revenue for the Lakeshore Ltd. It would also improve the Capitol Ltd. The Capitol Ltd has added a through sleeper to Philadelphia and NYC by dropping off sleeper cars to be picked up by the Pittsburgh / Philadelphia / NYC Pennsylvanian. An after-sunrise arrival of the Capitol Ltd in Pittsburgh would both be more appealing for Pittsburgh bound passengers, and also reduce the layover of the sleeping cars dropped off by the eastbound Capitol Ltd and waiting to be picked up by the eastbound Pennsylvanian.

The obstacle to this upgrade is not cost but an ongoing improvement project along the route of the Capitol Ltd. service east of Pittsburgh, where CSX is improving tunnels. This involves taking a track out of service each day after the eastbound Capitol Ltd has passed through, and so a later Capital Ltd. departure from Chicago must wait upon completion of this work in 2013. Amtrak proposes to purse the later 7:30pm departure of the Capitol Ltd and earlier 6pm departure of the Lakeshore Ltd at that time.

Free Riding Off of Rapid Rail Corridor Projects

As discussed last week (in an anniversary repeat of the first Sunday Train about three years ago), most of the "HSR" projects currently being worked on by states ~ and in some cases with ground already broken and new/upgraded services to be brought in over the next four years ~ are not bullet train corridors, but rather "Rapid Rail" corridors, with speed limits increased from the common 50mph~79mph range to 110mph, improved signaling, upgraded level crossings, and additional passing track to allow the passenger trains to run to schedule without any loss of freight rail capacity.

And this set of corridors is well positioned to leverage off of many of these Rapid Rail "HSR" corridors.

The first of the benefits to the "Silver " routes are, indeed, going to be rolling over the next four years. Virginia and North Carolina were beneficiaries of the first round of HSR funding, and benefited still more when Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida handed their intercity transport future back to the Federal government so some other state could get to the intercity transport future first.

Common to all three "Silver" services is the corridor from DC to Wilson NC via Richmond, and the focus of the Virginia Rapid Rail investments is in upgrading the DC to Richmond corridor. This 111 mile corridor is scheduled at (+h:+mm) 1:55, 2:09 and 2:10, for an effective 50mph to 58mph. Raising this to an effective 80mph would trim 30 to 40 minutes off the schedule, allowing for a an earlier arrival in Savannah and NYC for the Palmetto, and a departure closer to the end of the business day for the Silver Meteor. Even more important, it would reduce freight interference between DC and Richmond and help improve the inadequate On Time Performance of these services.

The planning for the extension of the Southeast HSR from Richmond to Raleigh is underway as we peak, with Virginia and North Carolina submitting their preferred alternatives for the sections of the alignment in May, 2012 (pdf). This will upgrade a further 126 miles of the Silver Meteor / Palmetto route and 197 of the Silver Star route, which would make for a total of 60-90 minutes taken off the "Silver" service schedules each way and reduce or eliminate freight rail interference over 237 to 308 miles of the "Silver" routes.

Rapid Rail corridors to benefit the Lakeshore Ltd and Crescent routes are not as far advanced. Feasibility studies have been completed for the Empire Corridor in New York State that the NYC / Albany leg of the Lakeshore runs on, together with the combined train from Albany through to Buffalo. If these corridors are completed, the Lakeshore will gain a speed increase, but the primary benefit will be improved On Time Performance, since the Buffalo / Albany section is one of the major sources of freight train delays on the corridor. And feasibility studies have been completed for the Atlanta / Charlotte NC section of the Southeast HSR corridor.

Now, Georgia is not showing any inclination to invest in HSR, and so the SEHSR corridor south of Charlotte NC seems likely to be a case of "take another study and don't bother me again until its finished". However, the North Carolina HSR corridor runs between Charlotte, NC and Raleigh, NC. This opens up the possibility of the Crescent running from Charlotte NC through to Raleigh and Richmond and to DC on Rapid Rail corridor all the way.

I don't have any grand conclusions to offer at this point, after this survey of some of the conclusions that Amtrak itself reached last year ... but that is often the case with incremental upgrades to existing services. The grand sweeping conclusions often rest on heroic oversimplifications. The ongoing incremental upgrades rest more upon getting down into the nitty gritty details and hashing out the problems and opportunities at hand.

Midnight Oil: Forgotten Years

Originally posted to Sunday Train on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 05:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, Kos Georgia, and Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the great diary. (12+ / 0-)

    I rode on the Lake Shore, Crescent and the Sunset Ltd in 1995 while travelling cross country. travel time was always late, like 1-2 hours late. i rode coach so very uncomfortable, but, if i had the money, i try it again. It might be more fun in a sleeper. I enjoy the trip overall, only time i've been to New Orleans and Austin.

    •  Amtrak is getting better. Much better. Really. (16+ / 0-)

      Earlier this month the Repub Chair of the House Transportation Committee, Cong Mica of Florida, held hearings on Amtrak's food & beverage issues.

      He was able to highlight the fact that Amtrak takes a loss on every meal served ... and uh, while these losses don't amount to much in any given year ... if you are a Repub, you just add up the figures for the past 10 years and use that bigger number in your press release.

      If Mica could have found a bigger something to make a big deal of, he would have.

      But he couldn't investigate the on-time performance, because it is enormously improved over past years.

      He couldn't complain about free on-board wifi, because it now is available to more than half of Amtrak's passengers.

      He didn't want to get into the matter of electronic ticketing, because that is pretty much in place already.

      And even when he was whining about the losses on food & beverage, he had to hear about Amtrak's moves to bring all its warehouse and distribution online in real time. This upgrade in turn will allow all on-board food & beverage sales to be made electronically. These changes will increase the productivity of the staff that heretofore has had to account for every dollar bill and every coin by counting the cash by hand.

      There's lots more progress, but it is too far past my bedtime to expand on this theme. Good night. ;-)

  •  Did you say "Sleeper Car?" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, ek hornbeck, bronte17

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 05:52:20 PM PDT

  •  Crescent (5+ / 0-)

    While there is decent daytime service between DC (my home) and Greensboro, N.C., the Crescent runs too late...getting in to Greensboro at a little after midnight (and assuming it runs on time) to be useful to me. The route it follows, though, through Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and Danville, is far more direct than the proposed route you mention via Raleigh and Richmond. Are there any plans in the works for Norfolk Southern to upgrade and improve the DC-Charlottesville-Greensboro corridor? NS is a fairly progressive and passenger-friendly freight railroad, and the increasingly heavy container loads heading south from East coast ports might seem to warrant such improvements. Or is there any state/federal interest in upgrading that rail corridor?

    "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

    by Reston history guy on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 06:49:51 PM PDT

    •  Direct on a slow freight rail corridor ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... and slightly less direct on a Rapid Rail corridor still translates into substantially faster on the Rapid Rail corridor.
      ... is slower than a little indirect on a Rapid Rail corridor. The "detour" to Raleigh is, in other words, the shortcut, and the "direct" route through Lynchburg is the long way around, after the upgrades to the corridor are completed.

      The critical thing for DC / Greensboro on the Crescent is not the speed of the route between DC and Greensboro but the speed of the route between Greensboro and Atlanta, since the iron law of sleeper services: they are not sleeper unless they are running through some part of the country in the middle of the night. Given that 40% of the patronage on the Crescent corridor begin or end their trip in Atlanta, they are not going to shift the Atlanta arrival to the wee hours of the morning to make for a better arrival time for Greensboro.

      However, when the Virginia and North Carolina HSR is done, there will of course be multiple connections between DC and Greensboro each day ... the days of only one late night sleeper train running through between Greensboro and DC will be done.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:15:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  sleepers for business travel: (5+ / 0-)

        Wireless internet connectivity onboard trains could become an incentive to use rail for business travel.

        Consider that more and more of the workforce is making use of telecommuter technologies:  VPN to access the company's computer network securely from public wireless hotspots or the cellular network, "virtual telephone" that turns the laptop or even certain types of cellphone into an extension on the company PBX.  

        With this, you can turn a day on the train into a day "at the office."  This will make train travel competitive with air travel for certain routes and trips.  Sleepers could compete with the "red eye" and its nasty sleep deprivation (or its risk of fatal thromboembolism from sleeping in a seat).  For daytime trips, coach seating is as spacious as first class in the air.  All of this without the crowd hassles and arbitrary "fees" and necessary security delays of air travel, and without the unpredictability of weather that can impact air travel.  

        So here's a wild idea:

        Offer "super-premium" sleeper service on specific carriages, catering to the business travel needs of the 1%.   Include room service for meals ("fresh local cuisine and American favorites").  Include ventilated sleepers where smoking is allowed ("enjoy a cigar after your dinner").  Charge rates that are profitable so the service runs in the black.  Give it a major marketing push in media venues that cater to the high-end business crowd ("how the Smart Set get more done during business travel and arrive refreshed!").  

        This will build a constituency that has political clout with Republicans.  Next thing you know, they'll be supporting expanded rail service too.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:54:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ventilated sleepers are unlikely to happen ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... and anyway its the lower rungs of the income ladder were smoking is concentrated.

          The majority of Amtrak services now have WiFi. The long distance trains don't, as they are often out beyond reach of a signal and because investing in microwave transceivers along the way for a single train a day is hard to justify ... but a system of on onboard server, store & forward email and cached streaming media could make for a usable WiFi system when beyond the reach of a broadband signal.

          As far as running in the black ... the sleepers are priced to run in the black, its the coach services on the Long Distance trains that are subsidized. And the sleepers are often booked out, with the total number of sleeper cars available dictating the limit on what can be earned from sleeper services.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:12:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  servers onboard = liability risk. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Judge Moonbox

            They'll become hacker targets.  

            SPRINT got its start as Southern Pacific Railways INterstate (or INternal) Telecommunications, so there is precedent for microwave relay along the rights-of-way.  

            If sleepers are booked solid and run in the black, then it's obvious that more of them are needed: build until the supply and demand are balanced.  

            For that matter, build "capsule hotel" style sleepers in the style of the old Pullman bunks but with doors or hatches that can be closed for privacy & security.  The point being to enable people to actually sleep safely rather than sitting upright (which as I said, has a risk of fatality; keyword search "airline seat death").

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:53:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Of course, but the up-front funding ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Judge Moonbox

              ... for a subsidized conventional passenger rail service to buy more passenger cars must normally come from its source of subsidy.

              Even if the funding is clearly a sound business decision, as is adding sleeper cars to meet demand and as is extending the number of Acela cars per set.

              And that is the problem: as a former CEO of Amtrak has noted, the principle challenge in running the railroad is dealing with the extraordinarily large and demanding board of directors consisting of 538 members of Congress.

              Single level sleepers are part of the current order of new single level passenger railcars.

              I've blogged before on retrofitting coaches into "semi-sleepers". On version of the idea is that you alternate the daynighter seating and day-only seating. When converted for night time, the day-only seats "kneel" forward, allowing more legroom for a daynighter seat behind it and 60 degree recline for the daynighter  seat ahead of it. A panel clipping to the back of the back of the day-only seat provides a privacy screen between the daynighter in front and the daynighter behind, and a curtain on the corridor completes a privacy / light screen. Shower stalls and toilet facilities are at the ends of the car, like the Australian long-distance coach cars.

              Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:50:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  wi-fi is great! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I always take Amtrak everywhere between Boston and Washington. It is far more productive than flying.

  •  Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. (5+ / 0-)

    The Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor is trying to augment service from Washington to Atlanta. NCDoT Rail Division has already upgraded service between Raleigh and Charlotte, and the various states have other plans in the works.

    One problem the Silver Star faces is that the tracks from Petersburg VA to Raleigh were taken out of service a couple of decades ago, and the Star has to take an hour or more longer going by way of Selma-Smithfield NC. The SEHSR is going to restore and straighten the tracks so the Star and the Carolinian will have a more direct route.

    The Crescent's route SW of Charlotte is more mountainous and twistier, the states involved haven't yet published any plans to straighten the route. Once they do, it will mean that travelers over the corridor will have a better choice of day trains with faster service.

    Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? -Paul Krugman

    by Judge Moonbox on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:16:24 PM PDT

    •  As I mentioned ... (4+ / 0-)

      ... the SE-HSR south of North Carolina at this point is more notional than a serious project being seriously pursued.

      But from NC through to DC, its well underway.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:39:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Raleigh to Atlanta day train is doable. (0+ / 0-)

        Taking the times for trains 73 and 76, and extending them to Atlanta, I got:

               73                                                 76
           6:45 am          Raleigh                   8:26 pm
           9:55        ar.   Charlotte       dp     5:15
         10:20        dp                         ar      4:50
         11:54        ar.  Spartanburg   dp.    3:08
         12:34 pm         Greenville                2:27 pm
           3:46               Atlanta                  11:33 am

        Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh would need new stations, the first two closer to downtown, and Raleigh would need one that doesn't turn its back on downtown.)Both Charlotte and Raleigh are in the serious planning stages.) They would also need a new station at Charlotte Airport.

        OF course, once NC's improvements are completed, the times would be better.

        Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? -Paul Krugman

        by Judge Moonbox on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:14:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Silver Star... (17+ / 0-)

    I travel the Silver Star from NYC to Miami or the other way around - as often as I can.  I really love the service and it is a relaxing way to make the trip.  It's cool to wake up deep in South Carolina heading into Florida ....

    I wish our idiot Gov. Skeletor had not handed all our HSR money back to the Federal government.  We're trying to work on that..... at least getting a new gov.

    Still enjoying my stimulus package.

    by Kevvboy on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 07:45:17 PM PDT

  •  Do it in smaller segments? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, KenBee, BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox

    Bruce, a nice digest of the PRIIA studies.

    But damn, this is a long diary. Maybe you could think about breaking this down into smaller segments and republishing them once a day instead of all at once.

    Of course, the smaller segments could each then grow a bit with some added info.

    BTW, let's give the other train nuts like us the link to the Amtrak site with the PRIIA studies and tons of other info.

    •  Why, its only 3100 words ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox

      ... Liveable Tranport (sic) if the Future Differs from the Past was 5600.

      Anyway, its the Sunday Train, it goes up in one piece on Sunday. If you can't read it in one sitting, feel free to read a section at a time ... I know that the normal dkos rule is that a diary a day old is gone like yesterday's newspaper, but feel free to common on a section at a time over several days ... I check Sunday Train for later comment on Monday and Tuesday.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:22:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The longer the article, the fewer the readers (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox, BYw

        I read try to your diaries every week and if I see them I always do read them, even at 3,100 words.

        But when I worked in journalism, for a prestigious national business magazine, the editors repeatedly reminded us that "the longer the article, the fewer the readers". That rule applied to newspapers as well, and I'm sure it applies to diaries today.

        Of course, some serious subjects require lengthy articles to do them justice. But this diary is about the PRIIA studies of (1) the Lake Shore Limited, (2) the Crescent, (3) the Palmetto, (4) the Silver Star, and (5) the Silver Meteor routes. Looks like five diaries trapped inside one bloated one.

        I suggest that you're cutting yourself off from potential comments and engagement with readers when your diaries are the length of chapters in a college economics text.

        For myself, I might want to chime in with a few thoughts on, say, one of the five routes in this group of PRIIA studies. But is this the place to talk about the problems and potential of the Lake Shore Limited?

        I can easily imagine readers here who would like to share their opinion on the fact that Detroit is served only by trains from Chicago and points west, but has no direct connections to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and points east.

        Or, since the diary covers so much more than just the Lake Shore Limited, should I keep my comments to the big picture and not get down into the nitty gritty of any one route?


        btw Your analysis of Rmoney's choice of Ryan was excellent. I didn't see that one until after the comment period had expired and I found a link to it, but it was very good work.

        •  Its the Sunday Train ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... any comments on sustainable transport are on topic.

          As far as spending another two hours on it and getting it down to 2500 words, I expect I could have done that, but my 8:30am-12:30pm Monday morning class pays and the Sunday Train doesn't, so priorities kick in. And as far as spending a month of the Sunday Train on PRIIA reports, I'm not interested in doing that.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:15:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The comment period doesn't expire ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... at Voices on the Square.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:26:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Fabulous, as always ..... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, blueoregon, Odysseus, BruceMcF

    ..... I rode the Crescent many years ago, and loved the scenery in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

           Bruce, one note: early in the essay you wrote .....

    Ranked by Cost Recovery, the best service is the Auto Train at 88%, the worst is the Sunset Ltd at 24%, and the median service is the Capital Ltd. at 88%  
    ..... have to think there is a typo with the last (median) figure?

    "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

    by Ed Tracey on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:23:48 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for that ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, Ed Tracey

      ... don't have figures at hand, but the median is in the 40's. I see a Silver service is 7th at 49%, so the median is probably 48% and having just typed 88%, my fingers just retyped it. At least they pay attention to me once in a while.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 11:58:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Once Amtrak sufficiently improves service (12+ / 0-)

    in enough high-traffic runs around the country, between word of mouth and good PR and media coverage, the high cost of gas and rising airline prices, other parts will start wanting their own improvements, regardless of what the teabaggers try to impose on them. We're going to get a first-class rail system eventually. There is no way we can survive as a leading 1st world country without one.

    Btw, I've ridden 3 of Amtrak's 4 historical NY-Chicago, the LSL, Cardinal, and the now-defunct Broadway Limited, all in sleepers. I liked the Cardinal the most. I've yet to take the Capitol Limited. Anyone who has the time and money should try an overnight train sometime. It's fun and relaxing.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:00:02 PM PDT

  •  The Crescent (6+ / 0-)

    I have fond memories of  riding The Crescent home on college breaks.  Amtrak was only 5-6 years old then, and the equipment was old but clean and often deco.
    I'd catch it at Greensboro in the middle of the night, then ride up through to New York, stopping at every college town right up the east coast.  It was a rolling party in those days, with the lounge car open till the wee hours. A great way to travel.

    “The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot do so well for themselves”- Lincoln

    by commonscribe on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 09:32:33 PM PDT

  •  I was very excited to see (6+ / 0-)

    concrete ties going down in Sonoma County for the new SMART train over the weekend!

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 10:25:05 PM PDT

  •  I had a great experience on the Coast Starlight... (5+ / 0-)

    ...with my family a few years ago. The staff was great, the other passengers were great, the food was definitely good enough.

    On the second day, the porter opened up the divider to the next compartment so we had a double during the day so my daughter had room to play. I can't say enough about the staff!

    Next summer, we are planning a trip from Chicago to the west coast. I hope you will have something to say on a future diary about those trains. I'll stay tuned!

    The case against Assange debunked:

    by expatjourno on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 11:11:56 PM PDT

  •  If all the trains were like the Coast Starlight (4+ / 0-)

    and we could get prices in line and travel delays minimized, I think we could get a very good alternative to costly car travel, and onerour airline travel.

    Of course, for travelers who need to get from cross country quickly, airlines might still be a better bet.

    But for our country to NOT have good rail service is daft, simply daft!

    For a better America, vote the GOP out of office whenever and wherever possible and as soon (and as often) as possible!

    by dagnome on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 11:24:16 PM PDT

  •  Although I haven't taken most of these, (5+ / 0-)

    I was always disappointed that the Lakeshore didn't make it into Cleveland at a more Godly hour; I would have gladly taken a long Amtrak slog from Boston to Cleveland (to reach an exurb of Columbus) when I was in law school rather than suffer the security hassles and high cost of Logan.  I had to take the American Airlines flights into CMH for the first year or so in Boston but those came to be progressively more expensive and yet less comfortable as the months dragged on, causing me in the end to take AirTran BOS-PHL-CAK, and by the time I'm flying into Akron to go to Columbus with a frantic connection in Philly, I may as well just go to Cleveland.  I've always suspected that Amtrak could increase its ridership by ensuring that all major cities served receive service between 7AM and 11PM.

    Sadly, it was hard enough to ask my parents to drive to Akron, let alone to go to Cleveland at 2 or 3 in the morning.  With all apologies to Cleveland, it's not a hot place to be in the middle of the night, and I suspect that Amtrak's Ohio ridership suffers accordingly.

    For instance, if Amtrak could somehow relocate to Downtown Phoenix and serve that at a more reasonable hour, I bet that the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle could begin to compete with the airlines.  But the political will to do that in Arizona is low - the tracks from LA into the old Union Station are apparently abandoned and I am not sure that Amtrak could easily get back out of Phoenix and onto New Mexico, I think that some of those tracks may have been lost to suburbanization.

    Anecdotally, is there a high demand for sleepers?  When I took the overnight Metroliners back from NYP to BBY, I just booked coach for the morning trip and business class for the overnight return - I slept quite soundly in the business class reclining seats and, if not for the commotion of people deboarding at Rt. 128, I might have slept through Back Bay. ;p  But I suppose those with children or a significant other traveling with them might want the extra space and privacy afforded by a sleeper, as I always packed into a backpack or, on the Sunset Limited (LAX-MRC), a small duffel.

    "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

    by auron renouille on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 11:43:08 PM PDT

    •  The sleepers are often booked out .. (4+ / 0-)

      .. despite the fact that they are not subsidized.

      The diary linked to had the Sunset Ltd. Its not a new station ~ a single train each way does not easily justify that kind of capital spending ~ but running the Texas Eagle through to LA and a corridor train NOLA / Houston / San Antone to connect to it results in much better timee at both Houstonc and Phoenix.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:07:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  On Cleveland, ... (5+ / 0-)

      ... Ohio and PA should cooperate on "so-called Broadway Ltd", a Pennsylvanian sleeper Harrisburg/Pitt that runs a day route through Ohi, then Toledo and onto the Wolverine route to Chicago. But that requires a Democratic Ohio House which requires controling the gerymander or ending it.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:15:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amtrak has ordered more sleepers (3+ / 0-)

      The revenue from the high-fare, and usually sold-out sleepers, let Amtrak make the case for more of them with the Obama-Biden-LaHood Administration. It was allowed to order 25 new sleepers as part of an order for 130 new cars to supplement and replace its oldest cars.

      The other new cars that will start coming by the end of this year include diners, baggage cars, and dorm cars for the crew.

      Taken together, the new order will make a nice but not great expansion of capacity for the big spenders in the sleepers and dining cars. The new cars will have better heating and a/c (much more energy efficient than before), better lighting, more outlets for your electronic goodies, better plumbing if you get my meaning -- and they will comply with ADA requirements.)

      The new cars will be able to run up to 125 mph -- faster than the run-down antique equipment to be replaced. Trains with the new stuff will maybe shave a few minutes off their schedules, maybe.

      But the most important advantage is that the old slow pokes have sometimes interfered with the schedules of the fast moving Acela and other trains on the NEC. Getting them up to speed will help to raise the on-time performance of the Acelas, Regionals, and Keystones on Amtrak's biggest route.

  •  South Carolina could use (5+ / 0-)

    a Charleston - Columbia - Greenville route, possibly extending to Atlanta (in fact, this as an extension of the NOLA-ATL route would serve many more people than a Macon - Savannah extension, and would connect all three lines running N-S through SC)...

    ...but of course South Carolina would never invest in such a socialist communist Muslim Kenyan treehugging dog-riding-inside idea.  Sigh.

    I like lemurs -6.50, -4.82

    by roadbear on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 12:38:30 AM PDT

    •  The point of a Macon / Savannah extension ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, roadbear, Judge Moonbox

      ... is that it connects Atlanta and Florida via Savannah, rather than via Washington DC.

      But, yeah, South Carolina is a principle reason why the Southeast HSR corridor has ground being broken in NC and Virginia, and nothing ongoing but studies along the balance of the designated corridor.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:53:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, an extension Charleston - ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Woody, roadbear

      ... Columbia - Greenville couldn't be done as a split of the Crescent route, since its on the South Carolina side that the Crescent needs the extra cars.

      It would work on the other side ... instead of cutting cars out to sit in Atlanta, cut them out at Birmingham to pull them with a State of Alabama owned locomotive from Birmingham to Montgomery and Mobile, and back. Alabama could buy three coach cars and a locomotive, pay a small subsidy to Amtrak and get the use of six coach cars.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 04:33:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I saw a proposal: Charlotte-Rock Hall-Charleston. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It was on the NARP message board in the Charlotte station last year. I wasn't able to find anything online about it, and I don't remember any details, except that they had worked out a schedule.

      Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? -Paul Krugman

      by Judge Moonbox on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:25:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Station locations can be a problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox

    I suspect there would be more people using Amtrak in Jacksonville, FL, if they didn't have to go up to the far North side, in a dodgy place where, frankly, I'd be afraid to leave my car.

    I wonder how many other large cities place their train stations in a place only accessible by car?

    I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

    by tle on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:33:00 AM PDT

    •  I think Jakcksonville is similar to Atlanta ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox

      ... AFAIU, they have a downtown Union Station, its just not use as a train station anymore.

      Some stations are outside of downtown because of geographical constraints. That was the case with Cincinnati's Union Station (also no longer used for trains) which was faced with different main stations for through trains coming over the Ohio River bridges heading north that were not going through downtown than for the trains coming from the east along the northern side of the river that did stop downtown, so they built it to the north and west of downtown, and provided it with a convenient streetcar loop. The current Amtrak station is an Amshack, but closer to downtown.

      Sadly in redeveloping the waterfront, Cincinnati deliberately blocked a through heavy rail corridor, in order to prevent freight from running downtown, which more recently caused no end of headache in working out where to put the Cincinnati terminus for the 110mph Ohio Hub.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:34:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, pretty much (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Jacksonville has a grand train station downtown.  There's an elevated railway that runs next to it and through a little of downtown (it's commonly called the "Skyway to Nowhere").

        It's a convention center now.  The only train is an old locomotive on display.

        I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

        by tle on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:32:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How about Boston-Washington sleepers? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox

    I used to take them on the "Night Owl". Leave 10:30pm, arrive 8:30am. 1/2 hour layover in Penn Station NY to change crews.

    •  These reports are on the Long Distance Routes ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox

      The five top ranking to be done this year:

      1. The Auto Train from the Larton VA to Sanford FL
      2. The Empire Builder from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest ~ the train splits to serve Seattle and Portland
      3. The Southwest Chief from Chicago to LA via Kansas City
      4. The City of New Orleans from Chicago to New Orleans
      5. The Coast Starlight from Seattle to LA

      The five middle ranking in this diary, evaluated last year:
      6. The Silver Meteor from NYC to Miami via Charleston
      7. The Crescent from NYC to New Orleans via Atlanta
      8. The Palmetto from NYC to Savannah via Charleston
      9. The Lakeshore Ltd from Boston and NYC to Chicago
      10. The Silver Star from NYC to Miami via Raleigh and Tampa

      The five lowest ranking ones, diaries evaluated in 2010, which I diaried in June:
      11. The Capitol Ltd. from Chicago to DC via Pittsburgh
      12. The California Zephyr from Chicago to SF via Denver and SLC
      13. The Texas Eagle from Chicago to San Antonio
      14. The Cardinal from NYC to Chicago via Charleston WV and Cincinnati
      15. The Sunset Ltd. from New Orleans to LA via Houston and El Paso

      It was a coincidence that five of the six NYC sleepers were in the middle set of five evaluated last year.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:27:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tip, rec, and shared! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Ahianne

    Thanks for this great series.

    C'est la vie, c'est la guerre, c'est la pomme de terre.

    by RunawayRose on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:52:24 AM PDT

  •  The only Amtrak experience I have is the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox

    Downeaster (between Portland ME and Boston)

    I love this train and rode it fairly often last year and the year before.  Haven't gotten to ride this year yet.

    My only complaint is food service :-)

    The dining and food service can be 5 cars away from where I am sitting, and I don't like having to bump my way all the way there to find a huge line.  I like even less that it is difficult to walk back to my seat with a drink and food in my hands.

    As a result I just don't buy food while on board.  I bring my own.

    I would definitely spend money on food if there were service carts that traversed the train.

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:26:59 AM PDT

  •  Private Co. Building HSR in Texas? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox

    Just saw this this past week:

    Not that I think it's likely at all. Checking their company website, there's a lot of impressive CVs, but it's a crappy website with some very basic problems which makes me doubt them.

    Figured I'd pass it along in case you hadn't heard about it.

    •  I heard about it ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... I'm not going to write about it unless it becomes clearer what is up with it, if anything.

      If they are promising 90min Houston/Dallas and considering using existing private rail corridors, they are in for some basic physics getting in their way. 3hrs would seem to be quite viable if BNSF agrees to let them lay new track in the existing Houston/Dallas rail corridor via College Station, or if UP lets them lay new track along the Houston / Waco / Dallas alignment. Maybe 2:15 if they electrify and press the geometry, super-elevation, and new tilt-train rules to the limit in a 160mph maximum corridor. 90mins, though, requires a transit speed of about 160mph, which implies a max corridor speed of something like 220mph, which is not well suited to the existing conventional rail corridors.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:13:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Found this Dallas Business Journal article (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Judge Moonbox, BruceMcF

        High-speed rail: Dallas to Houston in 90 minutes

        Regarding the ROW:

        Texas Central Railway Co. plans to run a N700-I Shinkansen train and operate within or next to existing rights-of-way as much as possible, Eckels said.
        ...oh, and today when I found their website, it had a nice front page and 'Coming Soon'. All the other really awful stuff was no longer accessible.

        Better late than never, I guess. Looking forward to seeing what happens. And your take, if it gets to that point:)

  •  Hook up Crescent & Sunset (0+ / 0-)

    Pre-Amtrak there was a "Crescent" train which was thru service from LA to Washington DC.   The "Southerner" ran the route (and nearly same schedule) as today's "Crescent".  A possible improvement might be to combine the Sunset Limited and the Crescent so that there would be at least one transcontinental route with same car service.  This would necessitate changing schedule of Sunset Limited.  (Now everyone must change trains in Chicago or New Orleans even though some of the equipment is going coast-to-coast.)  The fly in ointment is the terrible on-time record of the "Sunset" due in large part to heavy traffic west of El Paso.  If this could be cured  a southern route coast to coast might be attractive.

    •  The Plan for the Sunset is to ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Judge Moonbox

      ... take over the San Antonio / LA portion by the Texas Eagle, and run a daily corridor train New Orleans to San Antonio, which connects with the new Chicago / LA via San Antonio service with better times at major cities served and many hours saved in reduced layovers.

      Remember that 40% of current Crescent trips begin or end in Atlanta, so the 8am-9am arrival in Atlanta can not be messed with. However, that means the Crescent is scheduled to NOLA at ~7:30pm. If it continued on west, it would get to Houston at ~3:30am.

      If there was a spare sleeper, far better to attach a through passage sleeper to the NOLA/SanAntonio corridor train, let people connecting through via the Crescent have a dinner and catch some music in the Big Easy, then return to the train station to fall asleep in the sleeper and wake up the next day on their way to the connection at San Antonio.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 03:07:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Took the LA to Chicago train in a sleeper. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BruceMcF, Judge Moonbox

    My cousin and I, he lives in LA and me in Oregon, visit the home folks in Ohio every October. We both are sick of flying and so took the train. It was a great time. Not as slick as Euro trains, but pretty fun. Food was good, lots of fun conversations and beautiful scenery sliding by. The cars and furnishings are a little shabby though.

    My Cuz had a long talk with a traveling AmTrack official and he explained/complained how AmTrack has to struggle to improve service and modernize in the face of hacks in congress trying to snuff them out. Improvements are blocked and then the low quality of service and equipment is used to attack the operation.

    Still and all, I thought it was an enjoyable experience and wish we had national passenger train service we could all use and be proud of.


  •  Apropos of almost nothing, a Hydrogen train (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

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

    by xaxnar on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:49:59 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site