Passenger, High Speed Rail in Midwest

All the ways we move people and things: trains, planes, automobiles, biking, walking, etc.
First unread post782 posts
aprice wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:39 pm
Thanks for the update as well.
Seriously, why say "up to 90 mph" and "speed limit of 90 mph" and then flat out say that there's a stretch with 110 mph. Not sure about you guys but every time I've taken this route, the train has reached at least 108 mph at some point. I've heard that from others as well. Anyway, I seriously doubt they'll cease the 110 mph sections. Unless they can drastically speed up other parts of the trip and/or 90 mph is that much more fuel efficient. From my understanding, they were actually going to add more 110 mph sections.
I think they meant for the sections that aren't already at 110.
I was on the train two weeks ago to go to Chicago. They are still using the old trains and it still takes 5.5 hours.

I would love to find out when they start using the new trains and when the time of the route is cut down.
matguy70 wrote:
Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:03 pm
There was one at Gateway Station Downtown today.
Yea I've been seeing those more as I cross 18th street every morning for work. They are usually facing west if that helps but I usually don't look down to see the ones facing east
mjbais1489 wrote:
Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:38 pm
I would love to find out when they start using the new trains and when the time of the route is cut down.
Wish I knew too. The Amtrak website shows no shorter times into next February, so I figure they don't know either.
Train related so putting this here.

I don't know much about this company but the trains look nice.

Dallas-Houston is the “most obvious” place for private passenger service, he said, but he also cited Charlotte-Atlanta and Chicago-St. Louis. “There are others that we’re evaluating,” Goddard said.


http://www.floridatrend.com/article/245 ... de-florida
They could certainly get some increased service if they took a different route than the current Amtrak. A Chicago - Champaign - Decatur - Springfield - St. Louis route (similar to one of the proposed High Speed rail routes) could definitely add more passengers. Especially for a Springfield - Champaign leg.
jshank83 wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 1:20 pm
Train related so putting this here.

I don't know much about this company but the trains look nice.

http://www.floridatrend.com/article/245 ... de-florida
Could be mistaken, but I believe the Siemen built brightline passenger cars are what is being proposed to the fill the order of the failed bi-level cars for California and Midwest (including Lincoln and River Runner service). I wonder if that has any play in the thoughts of Brightline rep noting Chicago-St Louis corridor. With back to back orders you would have Siemen/Brightline able to bring capital cost of equipment down in the equation if you can get access cost to rail down at reasonable rate as well. The other option, with a couple different corridors you could move that capital expense to expand service that is succeeding and dial back if it doesn't work somewhere else.

The other aspect of FL brightline service is how much of it is a real estate play in and around their stations for which the parent company has some land holdings. Can see a real estate play in addition for Charolette-Atlanta service with two growing cities that might offer a future connection to Raliegh/Durham & growing rail service in Virginia. Tough to see as much real estate dollars to be made on the side with Chicago-St. Louis where St. Louis might be considered the weakest of the cities mentioned but also a place to buy really cheap as you develop a market.
chaifetz10 wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 2:47 pm
They could certainly get some increased service if they took a different route than the current Amtrak. A Chicago - Champaign - Decatur - Springfield - St. Louis route (similar to one of the proposed High Speed rail routes) could definitely add more passengers. Especially for a Springfield - Champaign leg.
I wonder if they would try taking over the Amtrak STL-Chicago services.
One of the new locomotives yesterday in Springfield.
Image
^Nice shot, Quincunx!
I took Amtrak to Chicago on Thursday and experienced 3 hours of delays in total related to an unknown delay in departure and a freight train delay around Alton.

What this showed me was dedicated passenger lines and a more efficient scheduling system will also go a long way to improving the customer experience.
^Yup. Same goes for our Metrobus system
JaredOpsal wrote:
Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:51 am
I took Amtrak to Chicago on Thursday and experienced 3 hours of delays in total related to an unknown delay in departure and a freight train delay around Alton.
I've actually gotten lucky the last few times I've taken the Lincoln Service. But I've also departed Chicago half an hour before we were supposed to arrive in STL. Most of the issues seem to be getting in and out of Chicago. I've rarely had issues getting in and out of STL, just once on the River Runner and it was for all of 10 minutes.
Supposedly implementation of Positive Train Control is supposed to help a lot. But we won't have truly reliable service between STL and Chicago until we reduce the milage of single track along the line.

If you're looking to nerd out on a good train project, check out the new Hartford Line that started this weekend between New Haven, CT; Hartford, CT; and Springfield, MA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartford_Line
They remolded or rebuilt every station on the line and double tracked the entire line aside from a small section through Hartford itself. In May there were 6 daily trains from Hartford to New Haven, now there's 17.
Traveling to other countries really makes one realize how terrible our transportation system is.

Even Mexico, though they don't have trains, has a ridiculously good bus system. Like departures every 10 minutes to/from Mexico City to other cities 3-4 hours away on first-class buses more far better than anything we have here.

We arrived at the bus station one day, bought tickets and got on a bus leaving in 10 minutes. Amtrak, in addition to the obvious delay issues, also wants you to squander significant time in arriving early and boarding at their major terminals.

A bus line departing even every two hours STL-CHI and taking roughly the same time as driving would be great. For a quick two-day trip to Chicago, I have zero interest in spending 1/3 of my waking hours driving.

You'd think there would be a market for better, non-driving transportation.
Court ruling allows Amtrak, FRA to set on-time standards

https://www.progressiverailroading.com/ ... rds--55175
Last week's ruling overturned a previous appellate court decision from 2015 that found a section of a 2008 law unconstitutional and allowed Amtrak to set standards that benefited its own interests, according to a press release issued by the Rail Passengers Association (RPA), which has filed an amicus curiae brief in the long-running case.

In a prepared statement, Amtrak officials expressed satisfaction with the ruling.

"Since this law was first overturned, we have seen continued deterioration of on-time performance over freight railroads driven primarily by freight-train interference," Amtrak officials said in an email. "This decision will allow the FRA to set on-time and other performance standards that would help ensure that our customers and the American taxpayer get the high-quality passenger service they deserve."
My daughter took the train from Chicago to St. Louis and it arrived about on time -- 5 hour ride. When you can take a train the same distance from London to Paris in about 2 hours, you realize what could be. I would hope when they get the go-ahead for high speed, they start a non-stop train from Chicago to St. Louis. Just have the current local-stop trains pull over on a side track when the high speed train approaches to get them out of the way.

The distance from Joliet to Alton is about 250 miles. At 110 mph, the train could cover that stretch in 2 hours and 16 minutes if it doesn't stop at the little towns between Joliet and Alton.

Amtrak currently shows time from Joliet to Alton of 3 hours and 21 minutes minimum with 6 stops between those 2 towns. So going non-stop 110 mph knocks 1 hour and 5 minutes off of that stretch.

A car can drive from Alton to St Louis downtown in 36 minutes.
A car can drive from downtown Chicago to Joliet today in 53 minutes.

So using Uber and a non-stop train, one could get from downtown Chicago to Downtown St. Louis in 3 hours & 45 minutes.
Believe Trololzilla posted the thefreightway report over on the Lambert thread but a couple thoughts when going through the report

Lenox Tower track improvements seem to offer legitimate improvement for passenger rail service before crossing the river even though its touted as a freight improvement

Second, more significant rail work in and around Granite City which got me thinking more. Does anyone know if either of these projects are part of a BUILD grant application (Formerly known as Tiger Grants and bumped up to $1.5 billion)? And like any good Fed grant program the winners usually have a bent that favors the current administration. I can see the current administration handing out any grant that specifically references Granite City and US Steel whether or not it is the best application for the region as a whole.

https://www.thefreightway.com/wp-conten ... -16-18.pdf

Realigning the trackage through the Lenox Tower interlocking will increase freight train speed limits from the 10-30 mph
range to the 40-60 mph range through the junction. Passenger train speeds could also increase from the 40-60 mph range to nearly 80 mph. Increased velocity will reduce the existing bottleneck and increase the capacity and efficiency of the St. Louis region’s rail network.
jshank83 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:00 pm
Illinois looking at 220 mph.

https://illinoistimes.com/article-20233 ... -rail.html
Why do these articles keep saying that the train's top speed is 90 mph!?! I've been on the Lincoln Service multiple times with a top speed of over 105, hitting 109 on one occasion (as determined by GPS based app).
And 90 mph is not the average speed with stops figured in, because sadly that number would be much lower.

Also the Chargers are capable of going 125 mph, but I'm guessing there would be significantly more federally required track upgrades in order to surpass 110. As for electrification, does anyone know of any electrified lines in the U.S. that also carry freight?
aprice wrote:As for electrification, does anyone know of any electrified lines in the U.S. that also carry freight?
Anacostia Rail Holdings owns Chicago South Shore and South Bend. Anacostia operates the line with diesels, I believe, but it's still electrified for heavy daily commuter operations. Diesel under wire. The same thing happens along sections of the northeast corridor.

Progressive owns the Iowa Traction Railway in Mason City. They're still using tiny little steeple cabs for freight operations. I haven't been through during daylight in . . . many years, and I have no photographs of that of my own, but here's one from Wiki by a fellow named Drew Jackson:

Image

It's a regular short line operation and not a tourist line, but I believe they do photographer specials every now and then. (Owing to their fame in the trolley community.)
According to posters at railroad.net, the 110 was downgraded to 79mph. It's supposedly all 79mph now, and the speed upgrades are perpetually just around the corner.
http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 5#p1476644
Came across this power point in a google search.
It's from February of this year. Most notably, it says that IDOT's new coach cars will enter service in July of 2020.
It also has some renderings of the interior as well as photos of the interiors of Brightline's coaches.

http://www.highspeed-rail.org/Documents ... ation.pptx

Background on this:
California had been looking into new coaches for its Amtrak lines (such as the San Joaquins). IDOT decided to piggy-back on this order, almost doubling it. California will be buying 49 new cars, Illinois will be buying 88. In November of last year, California announced the relatively late decision to switch the manufacturer to Siemens, delaying delivery by a couple years. The Siemens design will be based heavily on what they built for Brightline in Florida.
The 100+ mph service that was seen in Illinois in 2017 was in fact just testing. I'm guessing it's too expensive to run trains that fast with the heavy existing rolling stock. The new Siemens cars will be significantly lighter. I have read that Amtrak is waiting for the delivery of these new cars to implement a faster schedule between STL and Chicago (among other Illinois routes).

While I absolutely love the exterior of the original Amfleet cars, and while the renovations have been decent, I think some flashy new interiors will attract some new riders. These cars will also finally have larger windows with blinds. For those of you who don't know the background on the original Amfleet, there had been a few spates of teenagers throwing rocks at trains in the '60s so they designed Amfleet with smaller windows because of it. I don't think the Horizon fleet's windows were much larger but we're finally getting some larger windows.

EDIT: just found this article on why the order was switched to Siemens. What a disaster. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ ... story.html

Image
Picture1
by Alex Price, on Flickr
^ I believe the new cars are essentially the same as the Brightline cars being built in Sacramento CA for the private Florida service now in operation between Miami & Palm Beach (with contract for new connection/new rail to Orlando airport recently awarded).

However, what a disappointment. MoDOT was supposed to get new bi-level for 110 mph service under original bid and the instant capacity increase on same number of trains that would have come with it. MoDOT/River Runner are going to get their new cars to go along with the new horsepower pulling them but any capacity is in additional frequency which I believe is not happening anytime soon..

Someone can correct me on the above. The best take or understanding I have read on following the saga is that the Japanese under bid to get the order and when the realized their mistake they designed/built prototype to meet their budget instead of designing/building to pass the required crunch test for 110 mph.
dredger wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:40 pm
However, what a disappointment. MoDOT was supposed to get new bi-level for 110 mph service under original bid and the instant capacity increase on same number of trains that would have come with it..... [Now] any capacity is in additional frequency which I believe is not happening anytime soon.
Is capacity an issue for the Lincoln Service?
wabash wrote:
Tue Oct 23, 2018 9:53 pm
Is capacity an issue for the Lincoln Service?
I guess I didn't put it together that Lincoln Service was going to be getting bi-level cars. I also didn't know that the River Runner was part of this package.

Granted, I usually take the train on Fridays and Sundays but those trains are regularly "sold out." Same for the Friday afternoon MO River Runner. The last time I went to Chicago on the 5:30 pm train, the downtown STL station filled about 90% of two cars (about 130 people). It's not hard to get those tickets by any means but it would probably be difficult to get a ticket the day of like people do on the Northeast Regional. I just checked for this Friday, Amtrak's website claims that there's literally one seat left on the 3 pm Lincoln Service.
So yes, the Lincoln Service and River Runner are well used, if nothing else. And the extra capacity would be utilized. However I'm not torn up by the fact that we're not adding capacity. Right now, the speed of the lighter coach cars is more important to me. I'd much rather see an 11:00 a.m. train added to the schedule but I doubt that will happen (see my bit about the Texas Eagle below). Current STL departures for Chicago are 4:35, 6:40, 7:55*, 15:00, & 17:30.
*7:55 is the Texas Eagle which I've only caught once and has been sold out literally every other time I've seen it. It's also regularly two to five hours behind schedule so you wouldn't want to take it anyway. I saw it running on time this morning and took a photo out of sheer excitement. I think it can also lose even more time between STL and Chicago because it loses priority when it's behind schedule, don't quote me on that though. I'm guessing that the gap in the Lincoln Service between 6:40 and 15:00 is because of the Texas Eagle.