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Date: 02/23/24 09:35
My third submission to the FRA New Long Haul Route Study
Author: Railvt

Further commentary on the FRA Long Distance Passenger New Routes Study follows. This is my third submission. Again, in the hope that the Study Group will have time to review these submissions, more will follow.

Once again, also, please submit your own responses--of whatever length--and feel free to take any of my material as well.

The link to comment is at the bottom of the page at https://fralongdistancerailstudy.org/

************************************************************************************************

This is my third submission to the Long Haul New Routes Study group. I will comment on one proposed new route in this post, Chicago-Miami via Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and Atlanta.

Amtrak ran its FLORIDIAN over portions of this line in the 1970s, but the train was cancelled because of poor ridership, caused in large measure by deteriorated track and many slow-orders, which caused endemic late-running of the train. Since 1979 the situation has improved, but much still needs to be done.

Class Four--79mph speeds must be available over tangent (straight) track segments for this route in particular to succeed. With the hills and mountains to be crested in the central sections decent speed is essential over the more open sections of the route.

NB: When I ran my rail specialist travel and tour business, Rail Travel Center from 1983 to 2017, Chicago to Florida via Atlanta was the single most requested route from our customers that no longer had passenger service. FYI Denver to Dallas was number two. Please understand my concerns about the challenges facing this project do not reflect a desire to see it abandoned.

I am sure the Study Group understands that this proposal requires substantial track upgrades if it is to be implemented. The current Amtrak route (served by the CARDINAL) from Chicago to Indianapolis is operationally impacted by the decision from CSX to drop to Class Three track speeds on the former Monon RR route, which holds top speeds over this segment to no more than 59mph, when they had been 79mph on tangent sections. In addition there is a very complicated routing, with many junctions and lines crossing, which needs to be followed from Chicago to the first passenger stop at Dyer, IN, further slowing the train.

This situation should be addressed in the work recently authorized to bring the CARDINAL from tri-weekly to daily status, but it is vital to this new route as well. All of the other traditional passenger routes from Chicago to Indianapolis are gone. The repairs along this corridor are likely to take several years to complete.

Amtrak briefly ran a split of the CARDINAL from Indianapolis to Louisville and encountered very poor track conditions over this one-time secondary mainline of the Pennsylvania RR south of "Indy". Some upgrades have been done, but a restoration of modern signals, welded rail, and roadbed restoration will be essential to get speeds to the 79mph level essential in this relatively flat territory. The balance of this line from Louisville south to Atlanta ranges from hilly to seriously mountainous, which will restrain overall speed.

From Louisville to Nashville the former L&N/now CSX line is busy with freight traffic. There will need to be additional sidings added to keep the line fluid and although track conditions are generally good, this route traverses hilly country and was never particularly fast. From Nashville to Atlanta via Chattanooga the CSX tracks must cross the outer ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Here too the need for added track capacity will have to be addressed.

It also may not be possible to access the former Southern Ry terminal in Chattanooga, which now functions as a unique rail-themed hotel. If so a new city station will obviously be required and because of complex routes here a backup might also be needed.

Both NS and CSX offer possible routes from Chattanooga to Atlanta, but neither makes an ideal passage for a passenger train due to the location of Amtrak's Peachtree Road Station on the north-side of Atlanta. To avoid a fairly lengthy back-up move a new Atlanta Station site is essential. This also impacts the choice of routes to continue south to Florida. This issue will be costly to solve, but must be acknowledged for any new service through Atlanta not confined to the existing CRESCENT route.

Between Atlanta and Florida the likely route should be on the NS line via Macon. But there the choice exists to go to Florida via Savannah on the former Central of Georgia route, now run by NS (connecting to the fine CSX Florida mainline to Jacksonville which already hosts three daily Amtrak trains) or directly via Valdosta to Jacksonville on the NS. The Savannah route is also a part of the current Corridor ID program, which might make funding easier to share, but it is not today a major mainline. The Valdosta route is busy with freights and will need siding/capacity upgrades.

The Study map seems to show the train routed via Orlando from JAX to Miami. I strongly believe it should be routed on the former Florida East Coast Line from Jacksonville to Miami.There should be a JAX, Orlando, Tampa connection, but he SILVER METOR/STAR are enough Miami service via Orlando in the era of Brghtline.  This FEC route would be very welcome, restoring passenger service to St. Augustine and Daytoma Beach. South of Coco Beach the FEC now hosts hourly Brightline passenger trains running (at least as far as West Palm Beach) at 110mph speeds. It will not be impossible to add an Amtrak train here, but the FEC may well insist on added sidings on the northern portion of the line that is mostly single track. Also getting to the Amtrak stations between West Palm Beach and Miami will require rehabilitation of a freight connection between the FEC and the TriRail/CSX line about a mile to the west.

I list these difficulties not to kill consideration of this route, but to admit that there are complex issues to be resolved. This may be an example of a new long-haul route that grows out of the emerging new Corridors process. All of this line except the segment between Louisville and Nashville was mentioned by Amtrak as a desirable new regional line for Corridor development.

Also there are other route options that may face fewer delays for heavy rebuilding. If routed from Chicago to Nashville on CSX line through Terre Haute, and Evansville the train would follow a still busy freight route which might require more siding capacity, but perhaps not have to face quite the level of rebuilding needed to go via Indianapolis.

But most likely will be that this line will be developed in segments. Operated as an overlay to new Corridor ID services this route might be able to open for example between Atlanta and Florida before work was complete on the mountainous north end. Key to this strategy is to make clear that the new Corridor segments will gain by being overlaid with a critical new north-south long distance route.

To return to a point made in the first of these posts the congress must provide a reliable, predictable and dedicated funding stream for Amtrak for any complex projects like those proposed in this report to be actually built. An annual revisit to each of these plans is certain to result in their failure.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/24 05:35 by Railvt.



Date: 02/23/24 09:42
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: Typhoon

Railvt Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>The current Amtrak route
> (served by the CARDINAL) from Chicago to
> Indianapolis is operationally impacted by the
> decision by CSX a few years ago to remove the
> signal system on the former Monon RR route to be
> used, 


Once I saw this incorrect statement, I stopped reading.



Date: 02/23/24 10:37
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: KansasCityChief

Thanks for doing this good information!!

Posted from iPhone



Date: 02/23/24 10:42
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: amtrakbill

Bravo
Well done!
Very informative!!

Posted from iPhone



Date: 02/23/24 10:42
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: amtrakbill

Bravo
Well done!
Very informative!!

Posted from iPhone



Date: 02/23/24 10:53
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: rhburn3

Just some comments.   

1.  I think the James Whitcomb Riley route from La Fayette, IN to Kankakee is in tact.  It is slow, but could be improved.

2.  Passenger trains have to be competitve with automobiles.   I rode from Chattanooga to Atlanta on the "Georgian" on the L&N.  Three and one half hours for 120 miles.   Line is very curvy and not competive.

3.  Atlanta to Savannah -  They used to have "Parlor Busses" non stop on I 16 to I 75 in 4 hours  In 1952, the "Nancy Hanks II" took 6 hours and that was its best.  The old Central of Georgia line winds around and does not serve the population centers along I 16.



Date: 02/23/24 10:58
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: bh35226

Though not adding service Chicago to Florida service to Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and Chattanooga; routing the train from Chicago to Memphis, on the City of New Orleans route, Memphis to Birmingham on BNSF, Birmingham to Atlanta on the Crescent route and south of Atlanta through Macon on the Southern or Central of Georiga routes, to Savannah on the NS and further south on existing Florida Service would be the easiest and using the least "NEW" trackage. The major problem will be in Macon if using the former Central of Georgia. The connecting track to the Savannah route was taken out shortly after the Nancy Hanks II was discontinued. It was on a viaduct. Many times there was talk of rerouting the Floridian on this route but the real challenge was the lack of the bridge. Trains would have to run on a baloon track south of Macon to go from Atlanta to Macon to Savannah. If using the Southern route from Atlanta, the trains would also have to use the baloon track. But, if the train was routed via Valdosta (the Royal Palm route) it would be a straight thru run off the Southern, but not the Central of Georgia. Macon Terminal station would surely be used. It s ajacent to all of these routes, except Central of Georgia from Atlanta to Florida via Valdosta. It woudl require a mile or so back up move.

Bob



Date: 02/23/24 11:17
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: ts1457

The way I see it, the Chicago - Florida LDT problem is simple.

Build / establish these corridors:

* Chicago - Indianapolis - Louisville

* Louisville - Nashville

* Nashville - Chattanooga - Atlanta

* Atlanta - Macon  - Florida

Next acquire equipment for the LDT.

 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/24 17:53 by ts1457.



Date: 02/23/24 13:10
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: MEKoch

All of you including Carl are ignoring a reputable Amtrak study in the 90s by Amtrak VP Jim Larson.  He said to use the Southern south of Atlanta, through Macon, down to Cordele.  North of Cordele the Southern tracks and the CSX sub are just about a mile apart.  Larson wanted to build a connecting track through the piney woods, to get from the Southern to Atlantic Coast Line (CSX).  Then the train could proceed south and go through Cordele on the CSX, where there is not room for a connecting track from Sou to ACL.  Then the train proceeds down to Waycross and Jacksonville.  This is a shorter faster route, and has some portions of double track north of Waycross.  



Date: 02/23/24 14:57
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: bh35226

Thre is/was a track connecting the two railroads in Vienna, Ga. It goes by a scrap yard but doesn't look like it is used any more. The connection off the NS wouild need to be built from the north. This is probably the connectoin you mentioned. However, let's hope that the station in Jacksonville if moved back to Jacksonville Terminal as has been proposed many times and there would be no need to route the train this way. The NS line has much less traffic on it than the CSX route and would be easier / cheaper to use.
Another potential connection to use the current Amtrak Station would be just north of the CSX intermodal yard. It would take the train off the NS, run Northeast about a mile to the CSX mainline and turn south and into the Amtrak station.
Bob



Date: 02/23/24 15:15
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: Englewood

To quote an English jurist of the past
"That statement, like the striking of 13 by a crazed clock, put in doubt all that
was said before or after".

Typhoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Railvt Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> >The current Amtrak route
> > (served by the CARDINAL) from Chicago to
> > Indianapolis is operationally impacted by the
> > decision by CSX a few years ago to remove the
> > signal system on the former Monon RR route to
> be
> > used, 
>
>
> Once I saw this incorrect statement, I stopped
> reading.



Date: 02/23/24 16:07
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long Haul Route Study
Author: jp1822

ts1457 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The wy I see it, the Chicago - Florida LDT problem
> is simple.
>
> Build / establish these corridors:
>
> * Chicago - Indianapolis - Louisville
>
> * Louisville - Nashville
>
> * Nashville - Chattanooga - Atlanta
>
> * Atlanta - Macon  - Florida
>
> Next acquire equipment for the LDT.
>
>  

This is partially what I don't understand and it seems to be a "given" from the onset......Some corridors are naturally going to be established and a couple of more intermediary links - you got a long distance train. The study kinda stated and led to that conclusion, but it seemed to be more of a "footnote" in the reports than more of a pragmatic approach on completing. You can literally overlay "US Connect" and and it will be quite telling. Yes, this is the FRA study. I get it. 

The other thing about choosing "specific routes" - that's still to be studied and completed. This is Phase III as I recall, and there's at least two or three more phases that will begin to focus on that. I think we have to still "wait and see" and making any comments about specific routes is AFTER the next phase, as who knows - maybe the study group will acknowledge the fact - need new ROW built from scratch, or the second/third track re-installed on freight routes to host a once a day (round trip) passenger train. A bit much, but just saying. The fact that the ole Pioneer route and Desert Wind route still exists - for most part - the study team perhaps "lucked out." But as they get more towards the Midwest and East - it's certainly going to get tougher on how to handle specific routes and what infrastructure is specifically needed. 

I see this as a "to be continued" when the next phase begins. Specific routing has just hit the high level.....



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/24 16:08 by jp1822.



Date: 02/23/24 16:48
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: lwbaxter

Rather than looking at the Atlanta to florida market, which is an easy drive, and served by congested rail lines, concentrate on markets further North and west.  As noted, one Possibility is to use the City of New Orleans.  Pick up a sleeper, café, and coach from Kansas City at Centralia.  This service would be better utilized than it was in the past by providing destinations throughout the southeast rather than just New Orleans.  Split the train at Memphis with a section running to Birmingham where it connects with the Crescent to/from Atlanta and point east.  Note the BNSF Memphis to Birmingham is now PTC.  NS also has a route.  Run via Montgomery where a section splits off for Mobile, overnight to Orlando.  Where it can connect with existing trains to other destinations in Florida.  Alternatively, continue as a morning train direct to Miami, and an Evening return accessing the maintenance base in miami.

.            South Wind
.2005       Chicago      0900
.1600c  Kansas City   1455c
.2230c     St louis       0800c
.0045     Centralia      0410
.0647     Memphis      2225
.0830     Memphis      2100
.1400c New Orleans  1330c
.1515   Birmingham   1400
.2300c      Atlanta      0908c
.1730   Montgomery  1100
.2000c     Mobile       0700c
.0330  Jacksonville   0300
.0645     Orlando      2330
.0800     Orlando      2230
.1335      Miami        1715    
c = connecting train
 

 



Date: 02/23/24 16:53
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: CPMorris

Typhoon Wrote
-------------------------------------------------------
> Railvt Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> >The current Amtrak route
> > (served by the CARDINAL) from Chicago to
> > Indianapolis is operationally impacted by the
> > decision by CSX a few years ago to remove the
> > signal system on the former Monon RR route to
> be
> > used, 
>
>
> Once I saw this incorrect statement, I stopped
> reading.

Why is it "incorrect?" I think Railvt is right, right?
 



Date: 02/23/24 16:57
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: Typhoon

CPMorris Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Typhoon Wrote
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Railvt Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > >The current Amtrak route
> > > (served by the CARDINAL) from Chicago to
> > > Indianapolis is operationally impacted by the
> > > decision by CSX a few years ago to remove the
> > > signal system on the former Monon RR route to
> > be
> > > used, 
> >
> >
> > Once I saw this incorrect statement, I stopped
> > reading.
>
> Why is it "incorrect?" I think Railvt is right,
> right?
>  

CSX did not remove the signal system on the Monon that the Cardinal operates on.  It is still very much in service, and received some upgrades for the short lived Maganation ore trains.  



Date: 02/23/24 17:02
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: CPMorris

OK, Thanks, Typhoon, but why was the speed reduced
from 79 to 60, or am I wrong about that? Still 79?



Date: 02/23/24 17:04
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: Typhoon

CPMorris Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> OK, Thanks, Typhoon, but why was the speed
> reduced
> from 79 to 60, or am I wrong about that? Still 79?


Nope, it is 60 mph for passengers.  Why I do not know.  



Date: 02/23/24 17:48
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: jgilmore

Typhoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> the short lived Maganation ore trains.  

Add your own incorrect statement to the previous one, that's the way to show them up. Maganation means something completely different than what most fans think you meant, unless you were referring to these (but they wouldn't help your argument):

https://music.apple.com/us/album/maganation-single/1714900370

https://www.amazon.com/I-am-MagaNation-V-Neck-T-Shirt/dp/B0CQPQH355?customId=B07KZ2LXGM&customizationToken=MC_Assembly_1%23B07KZ2LXGM&th=1

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/maganation/

JG



Date: 02/23/24 18:05
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: Typhoon

jgilmore Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Typhoon Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > the short lived Maganation ore trains.  
>
> Add your own incorrect statement to the previous
> one, that's the way to show them up. Maganation
> means something completely different than what
> most fans think you meant, unless you were
> referring to these (but they wouldn't help your
> argument):
>
> https://music.apple.com/us/album/maganation-single
> /1714900370
>
> https://www.amazon.com/I-am-MagaNation-V-Neck-T-Sh
> irt/dp/B0CQPQH355?customId=B07KZ2LXGM&customizatio
> nToken=MC_Assembly_1%23B07KZ2LXGM&th=1
>
> https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/maganation/
>
>
> JG

Oops.  You caught a spelling error.  Good for you.  That is far different than sending a letter to the FRA about a safety device being removed that wasn't.  My bad if it makes you feel better.  

Magnetation

https://www.trains.com/trn/train-basics/ask-trains/mystery-gondola-loads/



Date: 02/23/24 18:09
Re: My third submission to the FRA New Long HAul Route Study
Author: jgilmore

Typhoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Oops.  You caught a spelling error.  Good for
> you.  That is far different than sending a letter
> to the FRA about a safety device being removed
> that wasn't.  My bad if it makes you feel better.

Thanks, I do. Just playing your game a little bit...

JG



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