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Old July 11th, 2007, 08:46 AM   #141
duke_of_hazard
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I agree amtrak is often late, but I find it is predicatbly late. I use this site to figure out how late my train is likely to be:

http://www.amtrakdelays.com

plus you can always check the status of a train through their website.
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Old July 11th, 2007, 06:57 PM   #142
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
Even though that's all true, my points are still valid and it's a major reason why ridership remains at its current level in California. It may be expensive, but something needs to be done.
The last time I visited California, I was stunned by the extent to which travel to and from the Los Angeles basin was becoming seriously constrained by the states failure to invest in both highways and railroads across the mountains. California needs to prepare for some serious investment in new railroads and new highways between the Central Valley and the Los Angeles basin. The California HSR is only a start. The state needs at least one if not two new double track freight railroads as well.
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Old July 12th, 2007, 05:20 AM   #143
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trainman Dave View Post
The last time I visited California, I was stunned by the extent to which travel to and from the Los Angeles basin was becoming seriously constrained by the states failure to invest in both highways and railroads across the mountains. California needs to prepare for some serious investment in new railroads and new highways between the Central Valley and the Los Angeles basin. The California HSR is only a start. The state needs at least one if not two new double track freight railroads as well.
Los Angeles is doing work in the basin with the Alameda Corridor East, but I agree, there is not enough to go north. The 5 and 15 are congested, and the 101 is a long way. I don't care how it's done, but there needs to be a rail line straight to Bakersfield that can be used by passenger rail. I refuse to take a 24 hour train trip to Sacramento or ride a bus to Bakersfield. I assume most Angelenos feel the same, which is why they would rather go through LAX traffic.
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Old July 14th, 2007, 08:25 AM   #144
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The barrier between California's two main Metropoli will always be there and will always be a challenge, I think what exists is all that will be there unless High Speed is approved, and that creates brand new designated high speed lines outside of the urban areas and grade separations within those areas. All the planning is there, but the money isn't. As for Amtrak, the paper last week was just saying how convenient it was to go from San Diego to LA for a nice weekend trip, apparently the Pacific Surfliner is very popular, but all Amtrak in California is substantially funded by the state as most stock is owned by the state, hence Amtrak California. As for the Northeast, they're dense, trains make sense there and are a very practical option considering the proximity of cities.
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Old July 14th, 2007, 10:11 AM   #145
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I rode Amtrak to Portland from Seattle or to Seattle from Portland few times in the past year. It saved me a lot of gas money. I enjoyed it as well. Only three cons about Amtrak trains from my experience... My trains always arrive to Portland late than planned which messed up my plans sometime. Some trains I rode were very uncomfortable because of very old chairs, tiny restroom, and smell. Their foods are somewhat overpriced. The train between Seattle and Portland usually takes up four hours. If you drive on I-5 freeway from Seattle to Portland without traffic, it would be three hours. Will I ride it again? Sure, it save money but I have to be patient with their services. I think Seattle and Portland should work together to build high speed train route to improve its system.
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Old July 14th, 2007, 11:27 PM   #146
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It's great to go to San Diego because there aren't really any barriers. It would work between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but we need to put up money for tunnels and high speed rail. I just wish that the governor would let us vote on it instead of taking away the choice from us.
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Old July 14th, 2007, 11:36 PM   #147
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Chances are, they wouldn't even need to build a high-speed train route to cut the travel time by at least an hour. In all likelihood, most of the delays were caused by the Amtrak train sitting on a siding while a freight train crawled by (in theory, Amtrack trains are officially supposed to be given "priority", but that almost never happens in the real world). Even marginal tracks can sustain 79mph speeds. Continuous welded rail (CWR) with in-cab signals and robust quadrant-barrier crossing gates can handle 110mph. Amtrak's own trains could do 120mph without breaking a sweat if they were allowed to run that fast.

One big problem Amtrak faces on host railroads is the fact that freight doesn't really run on any hard timetable. Freight railroads (especially out west) queue up mile-long slow-moving trains that all need to run in the same general direction, then dispatch them all at once in waves under a timetable that doesn't get solidified until literally minutes before the first train leaves. The problem is, when Amtrak needs to run in the opposite direction as a wave of mile-long trains heading in the opposite direction, it ends up getting sidetracked and massively delayed every few miles.

One HUGE difference between freight operations in the US and Europe is speed and train length. In America, freight trains almost never break 25mph, and frequently exceed a half-mile in length. In Europe, freight trains tend to be shorter and faster. That's another reason why grade crossings are a bigger problem in the US than in Europe. In Europe, if you get stuck at a crossing, it'll probably be for a minute or two. In America, you can turn off your car, walk to BK a quarter-block away to buy lunch, and probably return to your car while the train is still creeping across the crossing at speeds slower than you can actually walk (which brings up another thing... I was shocked to find out how common it is in the US for railroads to have manual switches and literally have the train follow someone walking 1/4 mile ahead of it to throw the switches by hand before the train arrives. I saw it happen firsthand a few months ago on a trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As the train crawled through downtown, there was a guy walking in front of it with a crank that he used to move the switches. I just kind of stood on the skybridge over the tracks with my jaw hanging open while the guy threw two switches as the train sat in the middle of the city's main arterial through downtown blocking traffic in both directions for about 5 minutes).

Last edited by miamicanes; July 14th, 2007 at 11:47 PM.
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Old July 15th, 2007, 02:48 AM   #148
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I agree with you.

Amtrak would be much faster, and viable, if we created HSR lines. Other than cost and lack of space, I don't why this can't be done in the Northeast Corridor where there is a market for it. Freight traffic is also a problem for certain commuter rail systems.

The situation is even more laugable here in the Northeast where Freight trains are rarely used. There are literally hundreds of kilometers of railroads that are just rotting away.
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Old July 15th, 2007, 08:58 AM   #149
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I agree. It would be nice if USA got separate railways for commuters, Amtraks and fleights and let them move faster and arrive on time.
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Old July 16th, 2007, 10:50 PM   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean Luc View Post
Why did Amtrak decide to have a new train (admittedly based on the TGV) designed and built from scratch when they could have purchased off the shelf an existing, tried and proven high speed train, modified for local conditions if necessary? It probably would have been cheaper and could have been brought into service sooner. They even tested the Swedish X2000 tilt train and German ICE in the early 1990s. Were neither of these found suitable?
The Acela isn't actually based much on the TGV. It only bears some similarities (the only part taken from the TGV are the asynchronous motors, I think). There are a few reasons why you can't just put a TGV on the Northeast Corridor. One of them is due to difference in electric standards. The NEC is home to about three or four different currents that the TGV is not adapted to, not withstanding that the US uses 60Hz rather than 50Hz in Europe. The NEC from New York to Boston utilises 25kV 60Hz AC, while New York-Washington DC uses 11.66kV 60Hz AC with a number of different frequencies mixed in there (at the time TGVs did not have adaption systems). Another big problem is the difference in standard platform height. I don't know why, but American stations have high platforms, while all European ones are low. The TGV could not open its doors as half of it would be underneath the platform. Finally, the NEC is much tighter and not customised like LGV. The TGV is not tilting and could not fit on certain sections, such as Metro-North propery in Westchester and Connecticut.
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Old July 17th, 2007, 05:37 AM   #151
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Not to mention the most important reason at all: FRA regulations require that any train running on tracks where there's even the slightest possibility of encountering a freight train have to be capable of surviving a head-on collision with one at full speed. The only way a real TGV could legally run on American tracks -- with passengers, at least -- is if there were no possibility at all of encountering a freight train on them.

The biggest problem with the FRA rules is their complete lack of common sense. For instance, suppose you have a passenger train that has its own tracks for 200 miles of a 210 mile trip, but uses existing tracks shared with freight trains for the first and last 5 miles (because they might run through a densely-developed area where building brand new tracks might cost $100 million/mile or more). Under FRA rules, even if the passenger train would never, ever exceed 79mph along those shared tracks, the fact that it runs at 150mph anywhere along its route means it has to be capable of surviving a 150mph head-on collision with a mile-long coal train . Even if it has its own right-of-way for 248 of those 250 miles, and ONLY shares a 2 mile causeway limited to 40mph along the causeway, the 150mph crash rules still apply. It's absolutely insane. That's part of the reason why Amtrak had so many problems with Acela trains... they're so incredibly heavy and massive, the parts they use (axles, wheels, etc) get subjected to stresses that don't exist anywhere else in the world. For all intents and purposes, trains faster than 150mph are impossible in America, because they'd literally destroy their own tracks. The tracks would be subjected to more wear, tear, and abuse in one month than TGV tracks experience in a decade.
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Old July 23rd, 2007, 09:18 PM   #152
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I recently took a trip up to Rhode Island from New Jersey (by road, yes, that's bad of me, but Amtrak was booked at the time) and it took about 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete. For some reason, it takes 3 hours and 35 minutes to go from Metropark, NJ to Providence, RI. That seems a lot longer than it should be. However, I did some math and I found how long it would take for an Acela to go from Washington, DC to Boston at a certain rate:

Averaging 75mph - 6.093 hours (current time)
Averaging 100mph - 4.570 hours
Averaging 110mph - 4.154 hours
Averaging 120mph - 3.808 hours
Averaging 125mph - 3.656 hours (standard high-speed)
Averaging 130mph - 3.515 hours
Averaging 140mph - 3.264 hours
Averaging 150mph - 3.046 hours (highest possible speed)

This means that a train averaging 125mph, the average high-speed rail speed, could complete a journey along the entire Northeast Corridor in the same time as it would currently take for the Acela to go from New York to Boston. That's kind of sad.
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Old July 26th, 2007, 07:13 AM   #153
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamicanes View Post
Acela trains... they're so incredibly heavy and massive, the parts they use (axles, wheels, etc) get subjected to stresses that don't exist anywhere else in the world. For all intents and purposes, trains faster than 150mph are impossible in America, because they'd literally destroy their own tracks. The tracks would be subjected to more wear, tear, and abuse in one month than TGV tracks experience in a decade.
Do you have links to sources or engineering information? It seems interesting.
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Old August 3rd, 2007, 09:46 AM   #154
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All aboard the booze choo-choo! Amtrak offers drinks promotion
1 August 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) - Amtrak is trying to gin up new business by offering $100 in free alcohol to customers on some overnight trains.

The national passenger rail company is making the unusual offer to promote a new high-end service being offered on a trial basis for certain sleeper car trips.

Members of Amtrak's guest rewards program -- the railroad equivalent of frequent fliers -- can get a $100 per person credit for alcohol between November and January.

The offer of free drinks comes on top of the dinner wine that is already included in the cost of a ticket for GrandLuxe trips on the California Zephyr -- chugging between Chicago and San Francisco -- the Southwest Chief between Chicago and Los Angeles, or the Silver Meteor between Washington, D.C., and Miami or Orlando, Fla.

At about $6 for a house wine or $7 for a top-shelf scotch, that credit could fuel a long ride. The credit would not go nearly as far for, say, a $250 bottle of Dom Perignon -- also available.

Christina Messa, vice president of marketing for GrandLuxe, said the drinks promotion is part of an effort to revive some of the luxury of old-fashioned, cross-country train trips.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving questioned whether $100 in free alcohol was too much.

"This sounds like a lot of credit toward possible overindulging," said MADD spokeswoman Misty Moyse.

GrandLuxe offers separate cars, with their own private dining and lounge sections, attached to regular Amtrak trains. Tickets for such trips range from $789 per person for a two-day, one night trip on the East Coast to $1,599 or higher for three days and two nights for travel to or from the West Coast.

Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Morero said the goal is to entice people to try the new, high-end sleeper car service. The free alcohol promotion "is a test run so we're going to see how our passengers respond to it," she said.

In Long Island, N.Y., the commuter rail company considered ending alcohol service out of concern some passengers might disembark at their destination and drive home while they were drunk. The proposal was shelved after some patrons opposed the idea.
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Old August 20th, 2007, 07:28 PM   #155
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UNITED STATES | Railways

Portland train station could become home to market-style vendors
19 August 2007

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - In several years you may be able to go to Union Station to catch a salmon, Pike Place Market-style, along with your train.

A group hoping to start a public food market in Portland says the city-owned train station is its top pick for a site.

Some city officials are intrigued by the idea and are eager to find new uses for the aging station in addition to Amtrak train service. But the city is far from committing to filling station space with a market, which faces problems that include raising millions of dollars in private funds and dealing with Amtrak's space and security needs.

The space and security worries can be managed with careful planning, said Ron Paul, consulting director of The Historic Portland Public Market Foundation, which is working to give the city its own Pike Place-like market opening in 2012 or later.

"There are some challenges both in the amount of square footage that it (Union Station) will ultimately yield and in the organization of the market," he said.

A recently finished architectural study found a way to craft more than 31,000 square feet of market space by straddling Amtrak's operations in the main hall. The $25,000 study was funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant. Paul has gone over details with City Commissioner Dan Saltzman and staff from the Office of Sustainable Development, which Saltzman oversees.

South of the central hall, the market would stretch into space now filled with bathrooms, offices, a train-passenger waiting room and maybe Wilf's Restaurant, which could move into a separate annex building just south of the station. North of the hall, the market would go into building space now used for baggage and move outside into space that would be covered and turned into an entry.

"It's not ideal in that normally you'd want your market spaces more consolidated," without the passenger-hall's interruption, said Joseph Readdy with Mahlum Architects, who led the feasibility study. "But it does function."

A market could fit 25 to 30 vendors in that station space, selling everything from fresh produce to meat, baked goods, even distilled spirits, Paul said. Some storage and planned food wholesale work might have to go across the tracks, he said.

The market has looked at several other spaces, including the nearby Greyhound station and a federal building at 511 N.W. Broadway St. But Paul said he was lured to the station by TriMet's decision to run two MAX light-rail lines by Union Station: the Yellow Line to North Portland and the under-construction Green Line from Clackamas County. Riders from those areas, which have too few places to buy fresh foods, could pick up food on their way home from working downtown, Paul said.

Union Station also serves almost a half-million Amtrak riders a year. Paul hopes to get about triple that number of shoppers in the market in a year.

Still, the Union Station plan has drawbacks. Stricter train security could be a headache for market-goers, though Paul said he's planning for some tighter security rules. Historic rules and the building design limit the flexibility of the space.

Union Station needs $30 million to $40 million worth of work, including seismic upgrades and repairing water damage, to prepare for new tenants. After that work was done, Paul's group would have to raise $6 million to $8 million in private funds to install the market.

The city, meanwhile, has made no commitment to putting a market in the station. The Portland Development Commission is trying to find new ways to use the building and pay for repairs, said Lew Bowers, a PDC senior project manager. There could be other uses for that building, perhaps combining Amtrak, Greyhound buses and other transport services in one spot, he said.

Bowers sees the station's use as part of a bigger question: What to do with a "Broadway Corridor" that includes the 511 Broadway Building, privately owned Greyhound building, several nearby city-owned blocks and acres owned by the U.S. Postal Service. That's 20-plus blocks held by three or four owners, "which is pretty unusual for downtown Portland," Bowers said. "We see an incredible opportunity for this area."

Figuring out a way to get more money out of the train station is part of that. Updating the station probably hinges on including the land in a planned extension of the River District Urban Renewal Area, which could channel bond money to the project. The PDC also would love to find a long-term owner for the station, Bowers said. That could be the city of Portland, he said, or it could be a private owner. Some public-private partnership is the most likely outcome for the station.

"We need to have the discussion on more detail around this whole corridor," and get community input and City Council approval before deciding how to deal with the station, Bowers said.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 04:35 AM   #156
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to bring this back which is cool

anyways i hear of a rail service to miami florida which will be like a hotel on wheels with amtrak i read it on the newspaper
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Old September 2nd, 2007, 09:33 PM   #157
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Amtrak's really disappointed me. They were great in the 1980s, so-so throughout the 90s, and nowadays from getting as far as only telephoning their enquiry line they appear psycho (really, really astonishing). ouch, the manner they took with a foreign tourist, ouch
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Old September 5th, 2007, 03:43 AM   #158
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is the sunset limited running to orlando florida i need to know because i am traveling one day
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Old September 5th, 2007, 04:06 AM   #159
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^ hmm, have u tried the amtrak website?
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Old September 5th, 2007, 05:24 AM   #160
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well the thing is i did but when i checked on wikipedia they show a sign that it used to run to florida

i was wondering why they show that and on the amtrak site it says that the sunset limited runs to orlando florida
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