Florida-New Orleans train someday

3221 views
27 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • 3,923 posts
Florida-New Orleans train someday
Posted by wanswheel on Monday, January 02, 2017 12:44 PM
  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 12,305 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 02, 2017 2:53 PM

Personal observation from having the Sunset Limited operating on 'my territory' in the pre Katrina days.  The railroad then was ill suited to the operation of the train, especially on the one day per week when both the East & Westbound trains werer on the territory at the same time.

That being said, the departure from NoLa approaching Midnight does not give the Gulf Coast communities the kind of 'service' they will want.  Who wants to wait for or get off a train at O dark 30.  If a service is to be operated, it has to be stand alone and not connected to the schedule of the Sunset Limited's operation West of NoLa in either direction.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,679 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, January 03, 2017 10:21 AM

I met an older lady on a recent Texas Eagle trip.    She was taking the Orlando to D.C. to Chicago to San Antonio then onto Maricopa routing because she was used to the leg between Jacksonville, FL and New Orleans and wanted to see her Grandson in Phoenix again.

Imagine if frieght were that flexible with rail routings.....heh-heh.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, January 03, 2017 10:28 AM

BaltACD

Personal observation from having the Sunset Limited operating on 'my territory' in the pre Katrina days.  The railroad then was ill suited to the operation of the train, especially on the one day per week when both the East & Westbound trains werer on the territory at the same time.

That being said, the departure from NoLa approaching Midnight does not give the Gulf Coast communities the kind of 'service' they will want.  Who wants to wait for or get off a train at O dark 30.  If a service is to be operated, it has to be stand alone and not connected to the schedule of the Sunset Limited's operation West of NoLa in either direction.

 

Absolutely!   Amtrak needs to stop its "old thinking" or paraphrasing don oltmann, "Doing things this way because that's the way we always did it."

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 12,305 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, January 03, 2017 11:19 AM

CMStPnP
I met an older lady on a recent Texas Eagle trip.    She was taking the Orlando to D.C. to Chicago to San Antonio then onto Maricopa routing because she was used to the leg between Jacksonville, FL and New Orleans and wanted to see her Grandson in Phoenix again.

Imagine if frieght were that flexible with rail routings.....heh-heh.

You would be surprised at some of the routings individual cars and/or blocks of cars are taking in todays railroads.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    December, 2007
  • From: Georgia USA SW of Atlanta
  • 8,219 posts
Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, January 03, 2017 4:41 PM

BaltACD

Personal observation from having the Sunset Limited operating on 'my territory' in the pre Katrina days.  The railroad then was ill suited to the operation of the train, especially on the one day per week when both the East & Westbound trains werer on the territory at the same time.

That being said, the departure from NoLa approaching Midnight does not give the Gulf Coast communities the kind of 'service' they will want.  Who wants to wait for or get off a train at O dark 30.  If a service is to be operated, it has to be stand alone and not connected to the schedule of the Sunset Limited's operation West of NoLa in either direction.

 

 
Have to agree with BALT:  An early mornig departure from each end of route seems to be the best alternative.  Thru NOL  passengers are going to have problems no matter what.  It may be an expanded lounge in NOL might be the best alternative.  Inbound passengers could leave their belongings in the lounge check room, vist - party - etc until tired.  Stay in lounge until the morning departure to Houston, Atlanta, or Orlando.  Now how Amtrak would even handle such a proposal is higher than my pay grade.
 
Has there ever been a study of how much passenger potential there is for thru travel ?  NOL  as a final destination appears to be a medium to small market except during Mardi Gras ?  The annual NS maintenance cancellations of M-  Th trips do not help.
 
Depending on how soon service begins (?) the need to provide for equipment  has not been disclosed.  Right now not possible but when or if Nippon (NS) ever gets its cars to the midwest ? Yes Amtrak can surge equipment for short times but the need for equipment 24 / 365 especially during peak travel times seems spoty. ( Easter, summer, thanksgiving, Xmas ).  Then you have the question of  "is it daily or 3 times / week ?"  That means either 1 or 2 train more sets.  If two then the trains will pass somewhere around Chattahoochee, Fl.? That ties into BALT's concern of two trains on the route passing.   . 
 
Amtrak does not or will not have equipment for many years to have lay over thru cars for many years ?
 
Final consideration would be if a daily Sunset LAX <> NOL starts daily service as well ? All the above come into play.  
 
  • Member since
    August, 2006
  • From: South Dakota
  • 1,540 posts
Posted by Dakguy201 on Wednesday, January 04, 2017 5:46 AM

One can only wish a reporter assigned to cover stories such as this had even a little bit of the knowledge of the subject as that exhibited by this forum.  

  • Member since
    July, 2009
  • From: SW Los Angeles county
  • 947 posts
Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, January 04, 2017 2:57 PM

blue streak 1
Has there ever been a study of how much passenger potential there is for thru travel ? NOL as a final destination appears to be a medium to small market except during Mardi Gras ? The annual NS maintenance cancellations of M- Th trips do not help.

Another argument that far better marketing and cross promotion at Amtrak is needed. Time permitting (as an LD train trip implies) I would love to spend a little time in NO and visit local attractions like the National WWII Museum. One or two nights in a three star hotel would be far superior to hanging out in a train station lounge. Don't any of these hotels have shuttle service?

Yes, more equipment is needed for a separate NOL - Florida service. As discussed ad-infinitum the tradeoff is not running the wheels off of the existing equipment which is happening now anyway.

Google Map links ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, east of Tucson

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 12,305 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, January 04, 2017 4:38 PM

Even when the L&N and SAL were providing service - The Gulf Wind - with 5PM departures at both origins provided service at 0 dark thirty for many of the communities serviced.  The arrival and departure at Jacksonville were aligned to match up with SAL's Silver Meteor.  The Western connections at NoLa were more numerous that what Amtrak has in the Sunset and City.

http://www.streamlinerschedules.com/concourse/track2/gulfwind194912.html

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    October, 2012
  • 107 posts
Posted by Jim200 on Friday, January 06, 2017 4:02 AM

It all comes down to money. Amtrak studied this in a "Report for the Southern Rail Commission on Potential Gulf Coast Service Restoration Options" in December 2015. They found that a daily round trip between  New Orleans and Orlando would require 3 train sets and cost $18.43 million. The projection was 69,100 passengers and $4.03 million in revenue which results in a total cost of $14.4 million. This does not include any station costs or CSX requirements, and had a departure from New Orleans at 5:00 PM and from Orlando at 4:15 PM. By combining this with the "City of New Orleans", there would be 138,300 passengers, 2 train sets, and lower the total cost to $5.48 million. Other studies of round trips between New Orleans and Mobile were made, but these would cost the states money. Combining with the "Sunset" was deemed too unreliable.

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 12,305 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 09, 2017 4:45 PM

Jim200
It all comes down to money. Amtrak studied this in a "Report for the Southern Rail Commission on Potential Gulf Coast Service Restoration Options" in December 2015. They found that a daily round trip between  New Orleans and Orlando would require 3 train sets and cost $18.43 million. The projection was 69,100 passengers and $4.03 million in revenue which results in a total cost of $14.4 million. This does not include any station costs or CSX requirements, and had a departure from New Orleans at 5:00 PM and from Orlando at 4:15 PM. By combining this with the "City of New Orleans", there would be 138,300 passengers, 2 train sets, and lower the total cost to $5.48 million. Other studies of round trips between New Orleans and Mobile were made, but these would cost the states money. Combining with the "Sunset" was deemed too unreliable.

While the House of Mouse is the admitted draw to Orlando, with equipment being tight why not plan it NoLa to Jax - 2 sets of equipment and decent connections to the Silver service pair, Metor and Star!  Doubt there is sufficient demand for a 3rd train between Jacksonville and Orlando.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,679 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 1:21 AM

Jim200

It all comes down to money. Amtrak studied this in a "Report for the Southern Rail Commission on Potential Gulf Coast Service Restoration Options" in December 2015. They found that a daily round trip between  New Orleans and Orlando would require 3 train sets and cost $18.43 million. The projection was 69,100 passengers and $4.03 million in revenue which results in a total cost of $14.4 million. This does not include any station costs or CSX requirements, and had a departure from New Orleans at 5:00 PM and from Orlando at 4:15 PM. By combining this with the "City of New Orleans", there would be 138,300 passengers, 2 train sets, and lower the total cost to $5.48 million. Other studies of round trips between New Orleans and Mobile were made, but these would cost the states money. Combining with the "Sunset" was deemed too unreliable.

I always thought combining it with the City of New Orleans was a good idea.   It's the cheapest way of getting a Chicago to Florida train back.     However, I don't see Amtrak expanding any more Long Distance train runs without substantial state support unless the expansion of the run is break even or a money maker.

I think the Kansas City expansion of the Heartland Flyer has a better chance than New Orleans to Jacksonville service just because the BNSF railroad is relatively ambivalent and you have some state interest in supporting the new service.

  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: Atlanta
  • 10,418 posts
Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 7:32 AM

Back in the pre-fly/drive days, it was important to connect the "big dots" with schedules tuned to best fit those travellers and leave the "small dots" to deal with it.  

Example:  the crack NY-Chicago trains all ran overnight schedules to get folks between NY and Chicago overnight.  These trains were not designed to serve Altoona or Syracuse...

Amtrak is not a player in the NY to Chicago market, so why does the train still run a schedule designed for that traffic?  

If you are going to run a NOL to Jax train, I think you'd want to design the schedule to fit connecting the small dots to the big dots.  A day train between the two would do that.  Connections at NOL?  Shuttle the few passengers to a hotel and put them up overnight.  Make that part of the ticket they purchase from Amtrak.  Just have to partner up with a local hotel in NOL. 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 3,231 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 8:19 PM

As a railfan, I would love to see daylight trains with hotel packages at overnight stops.  I would like to see something like what CP had with hotels at major stations.

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,679 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 1:35 AM

MidlandMike

As a railfan, I would love to see daylight trains with hotel packages at overnight stops.  I would like to see something like what CP had with hotels at major stations.

Hmmm, if we could get Amtrak Management to consistently pick decent hotels with their Amtrak Vacations arm..........I might agree but it is no Rocky Mountaineer when it comes to the hotel choice operation.

  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: Atlanta
  • 10,418 posts
Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 8:06 AM

You could split the Crescent at Altanta, the LSL at Buffalo, the Capitol at Pittsburgh, the CZ at Denver and SLC.  Others?

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 9:24 AM

oltmannd

You could split the Crescent at Altanta, the LSL at Buffalo, the Capitol at Pittsburgh, the CZ at Denver and SLC.  Others?

 

Splitting LD routes into corridors is one thing; entering the tourist trade with deluxe hotels is another.  Amtrak's mission is supposed to be providing transportation that is hopefully a reliable, fast, convenient service that can be competitive.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June, 2002
  • 12,888 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 2:40 PM

no reason a given train cannot be both, and they are not incompatible

Splitting long distance into corredors may make sense in some cases, and Milwaukee - St. Louis did not work well, mostly because of the limitations of CUS.  But if you were to split Boston - Washington at NY-Penn, you would reduce Penn. Sta. capacity and reduce patronage New Haven - Philadelphia, for example.  In my opinion, Bangor or Portland - Florida is one long corridor.

NY - Chicago via Albany and Cleveland is another long corridor that could benefit by fast and frequent service.   And an all-daylight 14-hour NY - Chicago schedule should be possible.  The onei. overnight sleeper each way can serve corridor functions on the ends, and in the middle be the one student bus-competitive low-cost coach filler-upper for those not splurging on a bed and hotel-like services.  The day through trains leave NY at 7, 8, 9, arr. Chi.  20, 21, 22, lv. Ch. 6, 7, 8, arr. NY   21, 22, 23.  But 80% of the business on these three through trains would not be end-to-end.  Other trains, giving hourly departures from both end-point all day, would serve only parts of this corridor as appropriate.  A midnight departure from NY might just go to Albany, with a 6AM Albany departure to NY.  The 7AM would be the thru from Chicago oernight.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 969 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 3:47 PM

Dave you hit the nail with the hammer. Long distance trains can only be successful with multiple trains.   Most ld routes have corridors within them. It's impossible for just the lake shore Ltd to successfully serve all of its route efficiently. The same with most other ld trains.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Thursday, January 12, 2017 11:55 AM

daveklepper
 In my opinion, Bangor or Portland - Florida is one long corridor.

I fail to see how.  Changing trains or engines is one thing; changing stations in Boston (North Station to South) is quite another.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,679 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Thursday, January 12, 2017 6:08 PM

daveklepper
Splitting long distance into corredors may make sense in some cases, and Milwaukee - St. Louis did not work well, mostly because of the limitations of CUS.

Actually in the old Amtrak days when Amtrak was paying for the Chicago to Milwaukee trains I would agree.     However today when you have Wisconsin-illinois jointly paying for almost 100% of Chicago-Milwaukee service and you have Illinois-Missouri paying for Chicago to St. Louis schedules.    It's going to be difficult to marry the train schedules between the two corridors where using one trainset makes sense and at the same time keep the states paying for the service happy that they are getting the best time slots for train scheduling.

Also Amtrak seems to be challenged in Chicago with cleaning a trainset when the turnaround time is short in Chicago. 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Friday, January 13, 2017 9:13 AM

CMStPnP

 

 
daveklepper
Splitting long distance into corredors may make sense in some cases, and Milwaukee - St. Louis did not work well, mostly because of the limitations of CUS.

 

Actually in the old Amtrak days when Amtrak was paying for the Chicago to Milwaukee trains I would agree.     However today when you have Wisconsin-illinois jointly paying for almost 100% of Chicago-Milwaukee service and you have Illinois-Missouri paying for Chicago to St. Louis schedules.    It's going to be difficult to marry the train schedules between the two corridors where using one trainset makes sense and at the same time keep the states paying for the service happy that they are getting the best time slots for train scheduling.

Also Amtrak seems to be challenged in Chicago with cleaning a trainset when the turnaround time is short in Chicago. 

 

True.  Maybe they need lessons from other operators, like Metra?

MKE-StL probably makes no sense because few ride between those endpoints.  The few that do can connect in CUS.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,679 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Friday, January 13, 2017 10:33 PM

schlimm
True.  Maybe they need lessons from other operators, like Metra? MKE-StL probably makes no sense because few ride between those endpoints.  The few that do can connect in CUS.

Or the Airlines.   Airlines can clean a cabin in 20-30 minutes and service the retention tanks.   Even with 2 hours with a Superliner in San Antonio sometimes you still have trash left over and filled up retention tanks departing on the Northbound train......can't believe that even happens.    Poor Supervision.

  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: Atlanta
  • 10,418 posts
Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, January 14, 2017 7:03 PM

CMStPnP

 

 
schlimm
True.  Maybe they need lessons from other operators, like Metra? MKE-StL probably makes no sense because few ride between those endpoints.  The few that do can connect in CUS.

 

Or the Airlines.   Airlines can clean a cabin in 20-30 minutes and service the retention tanks.   Even with 2 hours with a Superliner in San Antonio sometimes you still have trash left over and filled up retention tanks departing on the Northbound train......can't believe that even happens.    Poor Supervision.

 

This is the stuff that needs fixed.  We need "better Amtrak" before anyone will loosen any $$ for "more Amtrak".

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Sunday, January 15, 2017 6:37 PM

oltmannd
This is the stuff that needs fixed.  We need "better Amtrak" before anyone will loosen any $$ for "more Amtrak".

Or a "refocused Amtrak" ?

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • 34 posts
Posted by krtraveler on Friday, April 14, 2017 11:13 PM

Here's something no one's thought about: Extend the Gulf Coast Service to Miami.

That move alone would take it out of the PRIIA 750 mile requirement by making the route 1,033 miles long. A Tampa extension is doable but at 787 miles long, it's barely outside of the area where the four states would have to fund the route.

Amtrak would not operate this version of the route. Since it has dragged its feet, let an independent operator get its feet wet instead. Here's a schedule of the new route. Other entities (i.e. Corridor Capital, joint Amtrak-SRC venture) would provide local and regional services at marketable times.

  • Member since
    April, 2016
  • 101 posts
Posted by Philly Amtrak Fan on Saturday, April 15, 2017 10:41 AM

BaltACD

Personal observation from having the Sunset Limited operating on 'my territory' in the pre Katrina days.  The railroad then was ill suited to the operation of the train, especially on the one day per week when both the East & Westbound trains werer on the territory at the same time.

That being said, the departure from NoLa approaching Midnight does not give the Gulf Coast communities the kind of 'service' they will want.  Who wants to wait for or get off a train at O dark 30.  If a service is to be operated, it has to be stand alone and not connected to the schedule of the Sunset Limited's operation West of NoLa in either direction.

 
I would actually prefer a rescheduled Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Los Angeles. I think it should be timed around the connections in NOL (Crescent and City of New Orleans) than in San Antonio (Texas Eagle, besides that connection is poorly timed anyway). My proposal would be to leave NOL late at night after the Crescent and arrive in NOL early (would unfortunately would have to either arrive in NOL well before 7am for the Crescent connection unless they reschedule the Crescent to leave NOL later). If the SL left NOL at 11pm using the same schedule it would arrive in SAS around the 2pm hour and LAX around 8pm rather than before 6am, better times for both cities. To save the ability to go from Dallas/Austin to LA, I'd run through cars to meet up with the SL in SAS. I'd also like to extend the Heartland Flyer from Ft. Worth to Dallas and Houston to possibly connect in Houston to the SL east to NOL (and to cities along the Crescent route) as well as connect Dallas and Houston by rail service.
 
  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,679 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, April 15, 2017 1:53 PM

Philly Amtrak Fan
I would actually prefer a rescheduled Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Los Angeles. I think it should be timed around the connections in NOL (Crescent and City of New Orleans) than in San Antonio (Texas Eagle, besides that connection is poorly timed anyway). My proposal would be to leave NOL late at night after the Crescent and arrive in NOL early (would unfortunately would have to either arrive in NOL well before 7am for the Crescent connection unless they reschedule the Crescent to leave NOL later). If the SL left NOL at 11pm using the same schedule it would arrive in SAS around the 2pm hour and LAX around 8pm rather than before 6am, better times for both cities. To save the ability to go from Dallas/Austin to LA, I'd run through cars to meet up with the SL in SAS. I'd also like to extend the Heartland Flyer from Ft. Worth to Dallas and Houston to possibly connect in Houston to the SL east to NOL (and to cities along the Crescent route) as well as connect Dallas and Houston by rail service.

Your not going to see another Amtrak Dallas to Houston train again without a substantial up front payment payment to UP.     SP was probably very happy to get that train off that particular route.    I am sure UP does not want to see it come back.     You might be able to persuade BNSF on a Houston to Ft. Worth routing though.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy

Search the Community