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Passenger Trains > Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail


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Date: 01/10/13 21:50
Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: GenePoon

After a seemingly successful but actually on-the-brink-of-malfunction
demonstration run on the new Illinois high-speed segment, things haven't
been going very smoothly.

Cab signals are persistently dropping out at a specific location, so a
permanent speed restriction of 90mph has been posted between mp85.75 and
mp87.0. Southbound, speed then returns to 110mph but the high speed
segment ends at mp90.0, so everything south of mp85.75 is effectively
now 90mph. This problem with the cab signals is unidentified and speed
can not be restored until the cause is known and fixed.

There is an issue with meeting UP trains at Odell...which is
inconvenient because that is where Amtrak Train 307 is scheduled to meet
a hot UP intermodal train. The UP train takes siding for Amtrak, but
since it blocks a grade crossing, the ITCS thinks there is an
obstruction on the track and enforces a 15mph speed for Amtrak. This is
apparently working according to design.

Northbound Trains 300 and 302 reach the 110 mph segment but can go
110mph for less than four miles before the 90mph restriction, and have
to begin slowing way before that. After that 90mph segment, even with
two units, they take over 2 1/2 miles to reach 110mph again, and in
another three miles there is a 100mph curve, followed by a 45mph
Approach signal for their scheduled meets at Dwight with Trains 301 and
303. That wipes out 110mph running for the remainder of high speed territory.

They only run at 110mph for a total of a pitiful few miles.

As to that second engine...someone decided that 110mph operation needs a
second unit but the System General Road Foreman's office says that
according to published Train Handling books and Road Foreman Notices,
that second unit must remain off line for that size consist. None of
the conditions listed for turning the second unit on are being met. Some
engineers have been turning the second unit on; others are complying
with rules so they don't run afoul of management, and leave it
isolated...269,000 pounds of dead weight.



Date: 01/10/13 22:28
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: amtrakwolverine

So I guess the wolverine trains are also breaking the law by using 2 engines to reach 110.



Date: 01/10/13 22:39
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: mundo

Keep in mind, no existing cab unit is good for 110 mph, so they use a loco each end.

Course this while other trains take a hit when freight power has to be used account LD failures.



Date: 01/11/13 04:20
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: abyler

GenePoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As to that second engine...someone decided that
> 110mph operation needs a
> second unit but the System General Road Foreman's
> office says that
> according to published Train Handling books and
> Road Foreman Notices,
> that second unit must remain off line for that
> size consist. None of
> the conditions listed for turning the second unit
> on are being met. Some
> engineers have been turning the second unit on;
> others are complying
> with rules so they don't run afoul of management,
> and leave it
> isolated...269,000 pounds of dead weight.

I have been saying for many years now that these units will not reach 110 mph except doubleheaded and under ideal conditions - long straight stretches of track with no stops and preferrably consistently downhill. Any significant uphill grade will prevent it, as will only running a single engine.



Date: 01/11/13 05:41
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: 9900

Wolverine trains have been given the blessing to run two units on-line between Chicago and Battle Creek ONLY



Date: 01/11/13 05:53
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: knotch8

2 engines and 5 or 6 cars. That's a remarkable inefficiency. And it sounds like there are bugs in the system. Almost everything takes time to work out. Even the sainted GG-1s were getting modifications 20 years after they were built; the freakish fine-particle snowstorm of the mid '50s saw to that. The Acelas took three or four years to get their bugs worked out but now it seems, with modifications and the attention paid by Reliability Centered Maintenance, that they're reliable, comfortable trainsets.

I don't know if other trainsets and high-speed installations around the world face the same break-in periods. I'm sure others on here can weigh in on that.

The goal, of course, is a long-term one. The vision, I hope, is trainsets with locomotives that will accelerate faster and be able to reach the 110-mph speeds. The US is taking incremental steps, a little bit here, a little bit there, get some excitement going, keep the funding coming, keep improving in incremental steps. Maybe some of the funding might be considered wasteful, some of it spent on frivolous stuff, but the goal is to build excitement, get Americans thinking about a reliable rail system as an option for travel and something that's worth funding in the future.

That's my rose-colored glasses take on it. I wish we had a national vision for higher-speed and high-speed rail, but we don't. So we'll keep trying to move forward in incremental steps.



Date: 01/11/13 05:55
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: railaddict

Just improving Alton to St. Louis, going from 30MPH to 79MPH, would have saved more time and taxpayer money. Same hold true for run through the city of Joliet, much of which is 10MPH. But that does not get politicians names in the headlines. The GM&O made this run faster in 1970 at 90MPH. How much money was wasted in the late 90's with the failed Illinois HSR project, and now more millions now. Thank you for letting Amtrak, the UP, and the state "Take you for a ride!".



Date: 01/11/13 06:44
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: rustys6004

Here here. This whole thing was so UP could get federal money to improve their trackage so they could pump more intermodals to the new facility in Joliet. They beefed up the track but it's still only a single line most of the way. Until you double track it you'll never do away with meets involving sitting on the side, or worse nosing into a stub, sitting, then backing back onto the main to proceed (like 302 does every day at Mazonia, just north of Gardner between the Dwight and Joliet stops). What's the point of blasting for a few miles at 110 then having to sit waiting on a southbounder?

And I agree with the points about Alton-STL, which have an hour scheduled for south bounders to do 25 miles, basically eliminating the utility of the line for STL residents.



Date: 01/11/13 07:17
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: floridajoe2001

I think we're forgetting that high-speed, "Quick Acceleration", locomotives (whatever they are) are part of the new equipment planned for this route. But, given the slow way we do things nowadays, we might all be 150 years old before we see them.

Joe


PS: So right about Alton-St.Louis! I wish non-St.Louis fans could see how arrow-straight most of this 27 miles is. In my view, it could have been upgraded easily, to, let's say 90MPH, and would work wonders at reducing trip time. Why this section is the "step child" of this project infuriates me.

Joe



Date: 01/11/13 07:49
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: amt207

Interesting observations. I have been watching #821 lately, which is the only P40 to my knowledge ever to be allowed to go faster than 79 (unless perhaps some did 90 on the Santa Fe back in their first lives). I had hoped to see #821 hit 110mph yesterday or today, but according to what you are saying, it ain't gonna happen.

The FRA now has decided not to use the C&A for the ultimate high speed route anyway. But I will be long dead by then. I suppose it will eventually go up the middle of I-55, or perhaps I-55 will be turned into a longitudinal garden for legitimate pot-growing, regulated by the Illinois DOT in the year 2020.

Baby steps, guess that is all we can ask for on the road to the 22nd century.



Date: 01/11/13 07:49
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: GenePoon

floridajoe2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> PS: So right about Alton-St.Louis! I wish non-St.Louis fans could see how arrow-straight
> most of this 27 miles is. In my view, it could have been upgraded easily, to, let's say 90MPH,
> and would work wonders at reducing trip time. Why this section is the "step child" of this project
> infuriates me.

=============================================================

It's politics. High Speed Rail politics. Dozens of miles of 90mph would not have made the political
splash of a few miles of sporadic 110mph.

Also, the benefit to passengers is not what drives High Speed Rail. It's how much money can be
brought to the table. In the political world, if 27 miles of 90mph costs less, it is less desirable
to the political critters...in Congress, in Illinois and at Amtrak...because they can't make as big
and loud a claim to have brought millions to the local economy, to the state, and to the company.

What YOU want: more trains, faster trains, better service...is not the same as what THEY want.



Date: 01/11/13 08:30
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: floridajoe2001

Sorry, Gene, but Illinois politicians would have gotten their 110MPH "Splash" regardless. In fact, 70% of the route will be 110. Plenty of opportunity for political grandstanding if they want it. It has very little to do with Alton-St.Louis.

I also don't agree that this has nothing to do with benefiting passengers; mainly because it WILL benefit many passengers on this growing route.

As far as "big and loud claims" of bringing millions (in this case, Billions) to the local economy and State; well, this is exactly what they have achieved. Let 'um brag. I say GREAT! They have also helped Amtrak (and the UP) in Illinois much more than anywhere else in America. Illinois politicians deserve praise for this; not condemnation.

I fear somebody in the "nuts-n-bolts" of rebuilding this corridor has overlooked Alton-St.Louis for some reason.

Joe



Date: 01/11/13 08:32
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: bluesboyst

Only in the Good Ole.. USA...



Date: 01/11/13 08:34
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: GenePoon

floridajoe2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sorry, Gene, but Illinois politicians would have
> gotten their 110MPH "Splash" regardless. In fact,
> 70% of the route will be 110. Plenty of
> opportunity for political grandstanding if they
> want it. It has very little to do with
> Alton-St.Louis.

===================================================================

You don't understand political grandstanding. It's short-term. Almost all those politicians think about is
in in terms of two years...when they want to be re-elected.

They don't give a crap about when "70% of the route will be 110" because they will be dealing with other
issues by then. A lot of them probably think they'll be Senators...or the President.



Date: 01/11/13 08:57
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: floridajoe2001

Gene:

All I can say about the way politicians act is: "live with it". It's reality.

In this case "politicians" did some good for Amtrak (which naysayers disapprove of). In other cases, politicians try to do harm to Amtrak--like Mica, for example.

So, politicians play two roles; Amtrak's friend or it's enemy. Whether you like Illinois politicians depends which side your on. I "love" them because they're rebuilding the corridor, whatever their "real" political reasons are. I'd love them a lot more if they get around to Alton-St.Louis.

Joe



Date: 01/11/13 16:18
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: abyler

floridajoe2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As far as "big and loud claims" of bringing
> millions (in this case, Billions) to the local
> I fear somebody in the "nuts-n-bolts" of
> rebuilding this corridor has overlooked
> Alton-St.Louis for some reason.

Nobody has overlooked it. Illinois is driving this project, and fast access to St. Louis does nothing for Illinois voters that is politically valuable, unlike serving Chicago, Normal, and Springfield.

This is what the Balkanized anti-Amtrak "states should take the lead in passenger rail "attitude has wrought. Isn't combatting this attitude why we formed a "more perfect union"?

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/11/13 17:53
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: floridajoe2001

To: ABYLER

I never thought of this before, but your right! South of Alton there are no more Illinois stops. so rebuilding anything south of Alton , even if it is in Illinois, benefits only folks going to St. Louis or other Missouri destinations. And true, Missouri has contributed nothing to this project.

But, holy smoke, this is such a terrible way to look at things. This defeats the concept of a high speed corridor between two big city end points; and besides, the money came from the stimulus grant, not from Illinois tax payers only.

Have we gotten this stupid in America?

Joe



Date: 01/11/13 18:03
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: kevink

These are the same two states that can't get together on funding for the new I-70 bridge over the Mississippi River. Illinois wants a toll bridge to close the funding gap.The folks in Missouri are adamantly opposed but have not provided any alternatives.



Date: 01/12/13 07:53
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: abyler

floridajoe2001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Have we gotten this stupid in America?

YES.

Look how Chicago-Detroit is being hamstrung by Indiana, or how The idiocy in Wisconsin by both parties has resulted in their being excluded from the IL, MI, MO car order.

IMHO, Amtrak, FRA, and USDOT should have more power to determine how these projects go, and the States almost none, since they will never look beyond their own parochial interests. Amtrak should also run and control the interstate commuter services, since it should be obvious by now that the states are incapable of developing them on their own in a way that is beneficial to all states and interstate travellers. See lack of coordinatin between MARC and VRE, death of Valparaiso service, NJT's inability to put in a stop in Morrisville, the utter lack of coordination between Metro North, Amtrak, and Shore Line East, NJt and LIRR's inability to untangle Penn Station with run throughs, etc.



Date: 01/12/13 09:07
Re: Working out the kinks on the IL High Speed Rail
Author: Lackawanna484

abyler Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> floridajoe2001 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Have we gotten this stupid in America?
>
> YES.
>
> Look how Chicago-Detroit is being hamstrung by
> Indiana, or how The idiocy in Wisconsin by both
> parties has resulted in their being excluded from
> the IL, MI, MO car order.
>
> IMHO, Amtrak, FRA, and USDOT should have more
> power to determine how these projects go, and the
> States almost none, since they will never look
> beyond their own parochial interests. Amtrak
> should also run and control the interstate
> commuter services, since it should be obvious by
> now that the states are incapable of developing
> them on their own in a way that is beneficial to
> all states and interstate travellers. See lack of
> coordinatin between MARC and VRE, death of
> Valparaiso service, NJT's inability to put in a
> stop in Morrisville, the utter lack of
> coordination between Metro North, Amtrak, and
> Shore Line East, NJt and LIRR's inability to
> untangle Penn Station with run throughs, etc.


Wasn't the NJ Transit stop in Morrisville largely sabotaged by the local interests? My understanding is the original plans called for a stop at Morrisville, but that ran into two big problems

--the Falls township council became enmeshed in traffic flows to the station, who would pay for road widening, etc. They eventually dropped the parking lot idea in the face of angry locals.
--at the same time, the parking lot owners in Trenton were demanding that there be no parking / station in Morrisville because it would cut into their revenue. The legislature and the mayor became involved
--a minor issue was Septa wanted a station on the main, and Amtrak didn't want to allow that.

There's no question that the Illinois HrSR effort is a local jobs project, and the link to St Louis was just a fig leaf to call it an interstate project. Even LaHood described it as "jobs, not transportation" on CNN 5 years ago.



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