UPDATE: My “usually reliable source” tells me “the plan” is for real and is being negotiated with UP. A daily train would create a nice rythm of operation for dispatchers. Amtrak would like to implement in October.
SECOND UPDATE: Also of note on Sunset improvements. Improved running time – perhaps by as much as eight hours. New Orleans arrival time from the west is hoped to be in the 9:30 range. Schedule for the new New Orleans- Florida departure not discussed. Might leave the door open for an early morning departure and day run to Jacksonville. Just speculation. Through sleeper NO-LA possible as repaired equipment rolls out.l Amtrak wants a new plan of operation for Phoenix (no surprise there). Connections with Coast Starlite will be reestablished.
THIRD UPDATE: Gene Poon, one of the professional followers of rail activity, updates this story on another source. Let me summarize.
- proposals are tentative; not approved by Amtrak board or operating railroads
- east of New Orleans proposal not completed
- westbound N. O. departure around 10:30 Am. M. arrive San Antonio around 11:30, connects to departing Eagle.
- thru NO-LA sleeper may come on as equipment is available
- more traditional eastbound departure from LA, after 10 P. M. arrive N. O. around 10 P. M.
- through Chi-LA daily Eagle with diner and sleepers
- no sleepers east of San Antonio at this time
- daily service is expected to generate 100,000 new passengers
I sincerely hope I have these details correct. This would insinuate a direct connection in N. O. both directions with less that desirable times at Mobile, but daylight service throughout Florida. It is an overnight train. It has to stop at night somewhere.
Final note on the third update. This is what can happen in Amtrak is not working full-time just to stay in business. Amtrak is to be congratulated. This is the kind of progressive (imperfect) activity which airlines and truckers have fought (and will continue to fight) at all costs.
Should Republicans gain control of Congress (which I doubt) in 2 years, a lot more than Amtrak will be lost.
We now return to our regular programming ….
With Logan and I held hostage by the dark powers of academia, you have missed a few developments. I am honestly embarrassed to be so slow on an important story concerning a matter covered here for sometime. There seem to be conclusive developments on the Sunset, Amtrak’s Los Angeles to Orlando route which has been “suspended” east of New Orleans since Katrian.
If this report proves to be true, something which must always be taken into account in railroad circles, I think Amtrak management is to be congratulated for providing DAILY service along the entire corridor. Even with a coach only train New Orleans to Florida, this is an amazing accomplishment. This will be well received and patronized. Although some will not be pleased, this is an outstanding start.
Let me reconstruct some of the email.
First a question.
Did anyone attend the RailPAC/NARP meeting yesterday in Los Angeles? Mr. Boardman was guest speaker and Brian Rosenwald was rumored to be unveiling the new plans for the Sunset Limited.
Mr. Rosenwald announced that they are pushing for daily service on the Texas Eagle between LAX and CHI. There would also be a daily stub train from — to NOL each day. The Texas Eagle would be full service – coaches, sleepers, lounge and dining car. The new Sunset Limited stub would be coach only with a Cross Country Cafe. The train may be rebranded with a new name when that happens.
This sounds pretty much like what Amtrak didn’t tell us at the SHSRC meeting in Birmingham on 23 Apr. At that meeting Amtrak explained they were discussing only the New Orleans to Orlando service. However, there was general agreement from those who were informed that the Texas Eagle would be full-service daily LAX to CHI. There would be a “new” train San Antonio to New Orleans, but a “stub” not full – service, but daily. What Amtrak did talk at length about was that there would be a “coordinated connector train between New Orleans and Orlando, not full service, but daily.
So with both these meetings we have a pretty clear picture as to what is happening. RailPac got the briefing on the Sunset west of NOLA and SHSRC got the briefing on the Sunset east of NOLA.
What was the Sunset route will be the Eagle LAX to San Antonio, a stub Sunset (or new name) San Antonio to NOLA, and another stub train from NOLA to Orlando with a new name.
This is not the absolute best everyone had hoped for, but at least it’s a restoration of service to Florida, and daily service the entire route. Those are the two main goals of all the groups supporting the Sunset. It’s a great start, and we just need to monitor it to see it happens, and support it when it does. We can always push for improvements later, and well-supported trains hopefully won’t be ignored for improvements.