Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Amtrak Pioneer restoration report released

While I am too busy with other commitments to dig down into this important document this evening, you are very welcome to give it a look and begin your comments.

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Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail

16 Responses

  1. It contains better language and a more positive approach than their approach to the Sunset East of NewOrleans, but the implication is still there that state support of some sort is going to be required as well as additional federal funding. The federal part is okay, the train has been off the books for 10 years and so obviously some additional budget money is required, but I seriously doubt that any state outside of perhaps the NEC and California will be in the business of supporting INTERSTATE trains.

  2. dave says:

    would take a miracle for this to happen (or a consortium of the states served to pony up a big chunk of the capital and 100% of the operating). oregon, idaho, wyoming, utah, and colorado could then determine their preferred route and timing. would be interesting to see if states would be willing to subsidize a long distance route. not much other choice in that part of america.

    the same amount of money in (capital and operating) in ohio gets you nearly a half-million riders.

    i would personally like to see this restored, but hey… wouldn’t we all?

  3. Tim Lynch says:

    Well said, Dave. Well said indeed. Ohio is a state with considerable population, good sized cities and towns. Plenty of “bang for your buck” to be had in agri-industrial Ohio, where there remain some pretty good rail lines. Only problem with Ohio is the same as with those states that have voting beef on the hoof are the conservatives, who never understood what “In the Public Intrest” ever meant.

  4. aw says:

    It seems like it would make plenty of sense for Wyoming DOT to operate the Ogden UT to Devnver segment as a state supported train, maybe with some help from Utah and Colorado for their portions. Of course, the huge capital investment that UP is wanting would make it impossible.

    I also wonder if the demand in the PRIIA that the route be Seattle to Chicago is unreasonable. If riders had to change trains in SLC or Denver, would it be some bad (assuming reasonable connections and enough reliability that you never miss a train). You miss out on some network efficiencies if you have some rolling stock that is only partly used. If they could use Talgo equipment, you could have faster average speeds Portland-Seattle and the Cascade brand wouldn’t suffer from the effective loss of a train.

  5. MadPark says:

    And for a verrrry critical review, from the newsletter everyone loves to hate:

    http://www.unitedrail.org/2009/09/22/this-week-at-amtrak-2009-09-22/

    Read with care and note how UP is going after every penny they can get. Plus, at least two of the proposals have passengers spending the night in SLC? Nonsense! This will never happen.

  6. Paul says:

    I’ll admit I only read the first part of the document. However, being that Amtrak always seems to need more support (votes) from states without service I have a novel idea. TWO (2) trains per day in each direction. In each direction, 1 goes via Idaho and the other goes via WY.

  7. MadPark says:

    @6 – Paul
    Ultimately, every long distance overnight train ought to have a twin running about 12 hours opposite. Thus, each day on Salt Lake Cuty, trains would arrive and depart each morning and evening for all points on the compass: Seattle/Portland, chicago/Denver/Wyoming, Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Chicago/Denver/Colorado. This type of synergy would do wonders for ridership nationwide. Whether we’ll even have overnighters in 15-20 years is another question entirely, of course.

  8. Paul says:

    Not all that relevant but Europe, even with its high frequency and high speeds, still has overnight trains. My wife and I recently enjoyed such service in May leaving Vienna in the evening and arriving Venice at 8 am after a good nights sleep. It was fantastic to spend about the cost of a hotel and to get to your next destination first thing in the morning after having a decent breakfast on board.

  9. John Bredin says:

    “Whether we’ll even have overnighters in 15-20 years is another question entirely, of course.”

    Amtrak is in the process of ordering new Viewliner sleeping and dining cars. Why **wouldn’t** there be overnight trains in 15-20 years?!

  10. Dave says:

    if you eliminate overnight trains, you basically eliminate two of the major arguments for continued passenger rail investment:

    – serving the mobility impaired and elderly who cannot or should not drive
    – serving those who are otherwise unable or unwilling to fly

    but yeah, just like in previous lean years individual routes are likely to be at risk. perhaps those days are over…

  11. Mad Park says:

    @10 – John
    An order for a couple of dozen Viewliner Sleepers doth not a national long distance rail system make. How about 250 sleepers plus a thousand new single level long distance coaches, diners, lounges and business class cars and another 500-600 Superliners for “Out West”?
    That would denmonstrate Amtreak’s and Congress’ commitment to a truly national system of long distance passenger trains.

  12. Woody says:

    The Amtrak study claims that the rise of budget airlines cuts into the potential market of rail passengers. Ain’t necessarily so.

    There’s the obvious and already reported argument that most rail passengers are drawn from those who would otherwise drive, take a bus, or simply stay at home.

    But the budget airlines have done more than lower airfares. Their willingness to sell cheap ONE-WAY tickets gives new flexibility to trip planners at travel agencies and home computers: Passengers can now travel by train one direction and fly back home on a cheap ticket. That option was prohibitively expensive back when Amtrak operated this route before.

    The budget airlines give us the luxury of sitting by the train window as the mountain scenery passes by, while working within a limited budget of vacation time.

  13. Woody says:

    This Week at Amtrak, 10/01-09, at unitedrail.org, has a fine critique from The Cascadia Center for Regional Development. Their interesting analysis is MUCH more optimistic — and more persuasive — than that from the Amtrak staff, unsurprisingly.

    No wonder Sen Crapo is not happy with the sour report from Amtrak.

    But if Sen Crapo and the other Pioneer supports really want to improve rail service out West, they need to get allies to support a wide range of improved, restored, and new long-distance trains in the parts of the country where population has been growing.

    The Cascadia group envisions the Pioneer using BNSF Front Range tracks from Denver through Boulder, Longmont, Ft Collins, and downtown Cheyenne. The Denver Regional Transportation District has plans to upgrade part of this route to commuter rail service within 6 years or so, and more of it later. Having the Pioneer run on this segment begins a corridor service that could then extend down to Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and perhaps to Albuquerque and El Paso.

    Improved service on the Sunset Limited line L.A.-Palm Springs-Tucson-El Paso-San Antonio and beyond is being studied, and mostly needs a push from Senators with some power over the purse.

    Meanwhile it’s high time for trains to run Denver-Salt Lake City-Las Vegas-L.A. again.

    And the Empire Builder’s figures have demonstrated demand for a second train through the upper Plains and Mountain states.

    Half a dozen shorter routes back east could quickly use new or expanded service. Restored runs of the Sunset Limited from New Orleans into Florida, and daily service on the Cardinal, for starters. Look at AARP’s wish list for more, like, Atlanta-Birmingham-Meridian-Jackson-Shreveport-Dallas-Ft Worth-Abilene-Odessa-El Paso-L.A. and Dallas-Shreveport-Baton Rouge-New Orleans among others.

    It’s time for Amtrak supporters to push for growth in the national network, not just advocating for one additional line at a time.

    The first step would be an order for hundreds of new passenger cars. That will bring hundreds of thousands, indeed probably millions, of new riders to the system.

  14. Aaron Peavler says:

    The Pioneer belongs in Idaho not as a fallen flag bring this train back we need it

  15. larry scheib says:

    Any chance of running this line from Boise north to Spokane instead of west to Portland? It seems that Spokane-Boise is well underserved and the existing Spokane connections to Seattle and Portland would be a better fit. Furthermore, the line wouldn’t be missing much by excluding a route through northeast Oregon.

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