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Old 06-11-2009, 08:08 PM
 
1,446 posts, read 4,056,756 times
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Lately, there has been some news about the future of passenger rail service in the US. Such news was refering to the propsed high-speed corridors that would contect various cities in certain areas. Much of this discussion was brought on by Obama's 8 billion dollar simulus package to develop such an infrastructure. According to the newspaper articles, it will take at least 10 years to complete. In fact, only the San Fran to San Di line is likely to be completed in the medium term. However, I cannot find anymore information on ths future of Amtrak and passenger rail service. That leaves me wondering if anyone can answer these questions...

1. Are anymore rail lines (not high-speed) going to be laid out for inter-city transport or for metro transport? What about within the next 5-10 years?

2. Is it even profitable for the Government to maintain Amtrak? Will Amtrak be privatized within the next 10-15 years? How likely is that?

3. Will the High Speed rail corridor in California have its own special tracks? Or would it share the tracks with other trains limiting its speed?

Thank you very much for whatever input you may have.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:23 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
6,159 posts, read 6,327,578 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lentzr View Post
Lately, there has been some news about the future of passenger rail service in the US. Such news was refering to the propsed high-speed corridors that would contect various cities in certain areas. Much of this discussion was brought on by Obama's 8 billion dollar simulus package to develop such an infrastructure. According to the newspaper articles, it will take at least 10 years to complete. In fact, only the San Fran to San Di line is likely to be completed in the medium term. However, I cannot find anymore information on ths future of Amtrak and passenger rail service. That leaves me wondering if anyone can answer these questions...

1. Are anymore rail lines (not high-speed) going to be laid out for inter-city transport or for metro transport? What about within the next 5-10 years?

2. Is it even profitable for the Government to maintain Amtrak? Will Amtrak be privatized within the next 10-15 years? How likely is that?

3. Will the High Speed rail corridor in California have its own special tracks? Or would it share the tracks with other trains limiting its speed?

Thank you very much for whatever input you may have.
1. I doubt if we will see much expansion of the railroad system.

2. It is not profitable for the Government to maintain Amtrak. However I doubt if it will be privatized. Even if they sold it for next to nothing, they would also have to subsidize it.

3. On the East coast Amtrak runs a high speed train on the same tracks as the regular trains. In my opinion this limits the effectiveness. The exsisting tracks are limited in how fast the trains can go. Between stations it only saves a few minutes. However given the thousands of miles of track that would need to be built in the U.S. I doubt if a true high speed rail network will ever be built.
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Old 06-12-2009, 04:37 AM
 
Location: Maryland
83 posts, read 300,231 times
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I don't believe Amtrak is profitable and ever will be. I definitely don't see it being privatized. I agree with Alaskan Mutt that the government will have to continue to subsidize it like mass transport is supported in various cities.

Concerning the East Coast, I know for a fact the high-speed Acela trains use the same tracks the regular trains do. I believe Alaskan Mutt is right in this limits how effective they can be. The amount of time you'll save riding a high-speed train is negligible. I believe it's something like 20 minutes between BWI Amtrak and New York Penn Station. And, you pay a lot more for the high-speed train.

One issue that people may not be aware concerning passenger service is that Amtrak doesn't own the tracks they run on. The freight lines do. The result is that freight trains take priority over passenger service. I remember taking a train from Clearwater, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana and, we had to wait for over 20 minutes while a freight train was allowed to leave New Orleans. It was very frustrating to see the New Orleans skyline and be stuck sitting there.

I know the airlines are slammed for their timeliness. Amtrak is just as bad. I had a particularly bad experience riding them from Richmond, Virginia to BWI Amtrak station where I ended up being over 3 hours late. The trains themselves are clean and comfortable but, I wouldn't take a train if I had to be at a particular place by a certain time.

I agree with Alaskan Mutt that in order to properly take advantage of the high-speed trains, they would have to lay thousands of miles of new track. Where would they put the new tracks? How much would that cost? People haven't shown any great desire to ride the trains anymore. After 9-11, you would think lots of people would start riding the train. As far as I know, they didn't. There is a good bit of use for commuter services. In Maryland, the state runs trains for them and, they do get filled up. However, these trains aren't useful for the regular traveller because they only run in the morning and in the late afternoon. I know this from personal experience.

Another issue is the train service various areas get. I remember wanting to take the train from Yuba City, California to San Francisco. It would've saved a 2 or 3 hour drive. I would've had to wait by the tracks for a single train that passed by at 2:10 in the morning. Some towns don't get any Amtrak service at all.
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Old 06-12-2009, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
6,159 posts, read 6,327,578 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilkester View Post
One issue that people may not be aware concerning passenger service is that Amtrak doesn't own the tracks they run on. The freight lines do. The result is that freight trains take priority over passenger service. I remember taking a train from Clearwater, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana and, we had to wait for over 20 minutes while a freight train was allowed to leave New Orleans. It was very frustrating to see the New Orleans skyline and be stuck sitting there.
I took Amtak heading East out of Reno once. After pulling out of the station we went maybe a half mile and then stopped for over an hour waiting for an open track thru the freight yards.

I have taken the train out of BWI several times. Was standing on the platform looking the other way when the Acela went by. I now look both ways while standing on the platform.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Maryland
83 posts, read 300,231 times
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The Acela is a nice looking train. It's a shame it can't reach its full potential. I've ridden the Eurostar and British 125's and, they rock. I'd like to ride the French TGV sometime.

I've never cared to spend the extra bucks to ride the Acela so I have no idea how it compares to the regional trains. I've ridden the regional trains a number of times and, I've been very pleased with them barring their hit and miss timeliness.
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Old 06-13-2009, 07:33 AM
 
1,446 posts, read 4,056,756 times
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The Sunday New york Times Magazine will have a fanatasic article on the development of a high speed rail service in california tomorrow. (I only got it today because I get home delivery). Anyway, for all of the complaining about costs, the article claims that it would cost MORE to upgrade the airports and highway systems.

The article does admit that connecting all major cities in the US will never happen. However, it is optimistic that the rail company will begin construction in 2012 and complete it by 2020.
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Old 06-13-2009, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Maryland
83 posts, read 300,231 times
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We'll see. I personally like riding the train. There is no way I'd fly from D.C. to NYC if I was going to see something in NYC. The train is a lot more convenient in that it puts you right in the center of the city. You don't have to mess with any airport shuttles and the security isn't as rigorous. Amtrak's trains are comfortable too.

I suspect any high-speed service would serve select corridors like that in California or here on the East Coast from D.C. to Boston. They would probably get the traffic to justify it.
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Old 06-14-2009, 11:58 AM
 
24,035 posts, read 11,947,334 times
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I sent my in-laws on AMTRAK from MT on the Empire Builder to Chicago, and then the Sunset Limited from Chicago to D.C., Then south to Kissimmee, FL.

They loved it and preferred it over to being packed into a aluminum tube like so much cattle.
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Old 06-14-2009, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
6,159 posts, read 6,327,578 times
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I took a 4 day Amtrak trip once. Got one of the roometts. The seats made into a 6'6" bed. Each sleeper car had a full time attendant. Bathrooms were kept very clean. The car also had a great shower. Meals are included in the price of the room in the sleper car. Had a great trip.
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Old 06-14-2009, 05:48 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,650 posts, read 33,451,681 times
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Just last week i took a business class round-trip on Amtrak from Alexandria to Newport News and back. The train was delayed both ways but probably less than a plane or a bus (dont get me started on Greyhound.) 4 hours each way. I made better time than on I-95 and I-64 in my car. The seat had a lot of leg room and a whole mess of baggage space overhead (fit my two full size bags). The conductors were very friendly and the train was very clean.

Not a bad trip at all.
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