Amtrak Speed Limits Outside of NEC

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Amtrak Speed Limits Outside of NEC
Posted by JPS1 on Saturday, March 18, 2017 10:06 AM

Where outside of the Northeast Corridor are Amtrak's trains permitted to exceed 79 mph?

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Posted by erikem on Saturday, March 18, 2017 11:19 AM

The former AT&SF Surf Line has several stretches were 90 MPH is permitted. The line is equipt with inductive ATS.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, March 18, 2017 12:09 PM

I don't know if they still do but I thought the former-AT&SF also had some 90 mph stretches along the former Super Chief route in KS and CO.

Definitely they exceed 79 mph in SW Michigan, across Illinois on the way to St. Louis (Lincoln Service Corridor), I read they were planning on Wisconsin South of Milwaukee but before the Illinois border but I believe that is at least 3-4 years off.

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Posted by RR Johnson on Saturday, March 18, 2017 4:23 PM

All:  The BNSF still has ATS on most sections of the Southwest Chief route between Ft Madison, IA and Barstow, CA and therefore they still allow 90 mph in Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, including the Surf line. The track in Kansas and Colorado has been downgraded to class 4 status so that #3 & 4 are restricted to a maximum of 79 mph. By the way, PTC has been fully implemented between Galesburg and L.A. on the Transcon.  Yours truly, Edward Johnson (aka RR Johnson)

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Posted by oltmannd on Saturday, March 18, 2017 6:54 PM

JPS1

Where outside of the Northeast Corridor are Amtrak's trains permitted to exceed 79 mph?

 

Empire Service along the Hudson from NYP to CP-169 (just west of Schenectady)  90-110 mph.  Harrisburg line Phila to Harrisburg, 110 mph.  You may consider these NEC branches though.

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Posted by Jim200 on Saturday, March 18, 2017 7:50 PM

On Amtrak's "Track a Train", they regularly go 110 mph in SW Michigan. I've seen 108 mph between Dwight and Pontiac in Illinois on the Lincoln Service. Pontiac to near Alton should be next for 110. 

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Posted by JPS1 on Saturday, March 18, 2017 10:47 PM

Jim200

On Amtrak's "Track a Train", they regularly go 110 mph in SW Michigan. I've seen 108 mph between Dwight and Pontiac in Illinois on the Lincoln Service. Pontiac to near Alton should be next for 110. 

Thanks for the insight.  Is the Texas Eagle permitted to run at these higher speeds between Dwight and Pontiac?

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Posted by RR Johnson on Sunday, March 19, 2017 1:00 AM

JPS1

 

 
Jim200

On Amtrak's "Track a Train", they regularly go 110 mph in SW Michigan. I've seen 108 mph between Dwight and Pontiac in Illinois on the Lincoln Service. Pontiac to near Alton should be next for 110. 

 

Thanks for the insight.  Is the Texas Eagle permitted to run at these higher speeds between Dwight and Pontiac?

 

Last I checked, #21 & 22 were still restricted to 79 mph. I don't know why they cannot do at least 90 mph.  Anyone know why this is so?? Edward Johnson   

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Posted by pajrr on Sunday, March 19, 2017 4:27 AM

From what I have always understood it isn't just track conditions that limit speed but also things like the signal system such as distance between signals, the timing of crossing gates, etc. Also the faster they go the bigger the space has to be between trains for safe stopping / braking. Think of it as driving your car. On city streets at 25-30 mphyou can be right behind the guy in front of you. On a highway doing 60 - 65 you need (or should) to leave extra space between you and the guy in front. More space between trains mean less trains can run at a given time.

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, March 19, 2017 8:10 AM

As to your speed when driving a car--in any place, you should be at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you--start timing when the vehicle passes a certain point and it should take you at least two seconds to pass the same point. Of course, if your reflexes are slow, drop back more. I could give some more pointers concerning safer driving, but this not the car driving instruction forum.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, March 19, 2017 8:25 AM

Deggesty
As to your speed when driving a car--in any place, you should be at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you--start timing when the vehicle passes a certain point and it should take you at least two seconds to pass the same point. Of course, if your reflexes are slow, drop back more. I could give some more pointers concerning safer driving, but this not the car driving instruction forum.

And if you are that far back from the vehicle ahead - expect 2 things. 

1.  If you are slightly faster but get no closer than that distance, don't expect the driver ahead to move to a 'slower' lane - he doesn't even know your there, let alone faster.

2.  If you leave that much distance between you and a vehicle ahead, someone else will slip into the space and you will then have 'back up' even further to maintain you distance behind the inerloper.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, March 19, 2017 9:08 AM

BaltACD
And if you are that far back from the vehicle ahead - expect 2 things.  1.  If you are slightly faster but get no closer than that distance, don't expect the driver ahead to move to a 'slower' lane - he doesn't even know your there, let alone faster. 2.  If you leave that much distance between you and a vehicle ahead, someone else will slip into the space and you will then have 'back up' even further to maintain you distance behind the inerloper.  

Heh my Mercedes manages all that for me under "Reactive Cruise Control".   Heck even lane positioning and braking are automatic if I do not react in time.    I could fall asleep and the car would drive itself it if were not for the broken line on one side of the car which Mercedes hasn't figured out exactly the decision making process there to second guess the driver.......so I have to remain conscious in that one area still.    It even adjusts the headlights to brights when no oncomming traffic.   If I do start to nod off the computer detects my slow down in road reaction time and vibrates the steering wheel first, then a very loud beeping sound to pull over and rest. Cool

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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 10:22 AM

pajrr
From what I have always understood it isn't just track conditions that limit speed but also things like the signal system such as distance between signals, the timing of crossing gates, etc. Also the faster they go the bigger the space has to be between trains for safe stopping / braking.

The answer in this century is CBTC, in which the 'block separation' is proportional to train speed and composition.  Similarly the time that crossing warning cycle starts can be properly timed regardless of speed, so ridiculously long waits that prompt bad driver "choices" are less likely.

NYC had a different version of the idea, with continuous signaling for freight and passenger on opposite sides of common signal posts.  (Of course this is the railroad that famously ran sections of its fast trains so close that passengers on the observation platform could clearly make out the turbogenerator exhaust on the following locomotive.)  

The argument could be made that longer crossing actuation could be implemented for separate high-speed mains, as for example on the PRR  there was nominal separation of freight and passenger.  I do not ever expect this to be a 'norm' again, and some form of continuous communication is probably better than, say, using ad hoc speed broadcast to choose between long and short crossing circuit triggering...

Personally, I think pervasive use of cab signals eliminates need for any wayside 'automatic block' system tied to fixed expensive signal positions.  We have discussed this a number of times since 2008.

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, March 19, 2017 2:09 PM

BaltACD

 

 
Deggesty
As to your speed when driving a car--in any place, you should be at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you--start timing when the vehicle passes a certain point and it should take you at least two seconds to pass the same point. Of course, if your reflexes are slow, drop back more. I could give some more pointers concerning safer driving, but this not the car driving instruction forum.

 

And if you are that far back from the vehicle ahead - expect 2 things. 

1.  If you are slightly faster but get no closer than that distance, don't expect the driver ahead to move to a 'slower' lane - he doesn't even know your there, let alone faster.

2.  If you leave that much distance between you and a vehicle ahead, someone else will slip into the space and you will then have 'back up' even further to maintain you distance behind the inerloper.

 

Well, Balt, you know that you cannot do much about the stupidity of other people except avoid hitting them as much as it is possible.

I often wondered about the brain capacity of people who, instead of driving at speed which enabled them to breeze past stoplights would drive fast and then have to stop at each light. I do not know how many people I have passed again and again in such a situation, watching them waste gasoline and wear their brakes out.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, March 19, 2017 6:27 PM

On a recent Auto train trip, my mph app never clock the train more than 71 mph. The  old seaboard airline railway would be turning over in its grave.

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Posted by UPENG95 on Sunday, March 19, 2017 7:07 PM

ROBERT WILLISON

On a recent Auto train trip, my mph app never clock the train more than 71 mph. The  old seaboard airline railway would be turning over in its grave.

 

Maximum speed for autoracks on freight trains is 70 mph.  I don't believe Amtrak's autoracks are any different.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 19, 2017 7:10 PM

Deggesty

 

 
BaltACD

 

 
Deggesty
As to your speed when driving a car--in any place, you should be at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you--start timing when the vehicle passes a certain point and it should take you at least two seconds to pass the same point. Of course, if your reflexes are slow, drop back more. I could give some more pointers concerning safer driving, but this not the car driving instruction forum.

 

And if you are that far back from the vehicle ahead - expect 2 things. 

1.  If you are slightly faster but get no closer than that distance, don't expect the driver ahead to move to a 'slower' lane - he doesn't even know your there, let alone faster.

2.  If you leave that much distance between you and a vehicle ahead, someone else will slip into the space and you will then have 'back up' even further to maintain you distance behind the inerloper.

 

 

 

Well, Balt, you know that you cannot do much about the stupidity of other people except avoid hitting them as much as it is possible.

 

I often wondered about the brain capacity of people who, instead of driving at speed which enabled them to breeze past stoplights would drive fast and then have to stop at each light. I do not know how many people I have passed again and again in such a situation, watching them waste gasoline and wear their brakes out.

 

But these days, at least here in the urban and suburban areas of the Mid Atlantic, traffic lights are no longer timed for through travel, they gave up on that decades ago. 

Most traffic lights have sensors that read all flows and all waiting cars and change based on that information, without regard for the light a block or two down the street.

Only when lights are in very close proximity are they tied together with some sort of "flow" in mind.

You can be driving along at the speed limit, being the only car on the road, at the intersection 1/8 of mile up the road you see a car pull up to the red light, and almost instantly you get the yellow. Because the light knew traffic was light for the green, so it decides to let the stopped car go asap.

Leave two seconds between you and next car in any major urban area, and you will sit still all day........

My FORD FLEX has adaptive cruise control, really cool.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by RME on Sunday, March 19, 2017 7:52 PM

Something my father taught me about fast driving:  the 'second for every 10 mph' rule, and the reaction time allowance, apply not to "the car in front of you" in traffic, but the third or fourth one up.  If you cannot clearly see that far in front, you have no business endangering yourself or others with a two-second following distance. You watch the relative speed, attitude, and brake lights way up there and start your reactions accordingly.

and with this goes something else: if you have to brake, pump a couple of times quickly to warn the person following close behind, and stretch the stop if you can so they don't hit *you*.

This isn't how they drive in Boston... but that's why I don't drive in Boston if I can avoid it.

i find there are still plenty of places in the Northeast where lights are timed to a particular speed.  Annoyingly of course there are also no few areas where the effective light timing is to KEEP you from going at the 'right' speed -- some cities do this to dissuade people from using certain streets as thoroughfares, or to get you to stop in the CBD.  So of course you wind up 'driving the pattern' to make the lights.

Almost everywhere I go, the 'computerized' lights are either on roads with widely spaced intersections or on side streets going onto high-speed roads.  Seldom do these things have extended detection loops for the 'highway' direction, but they are usually counting the cars at that 'side' entrance so they can use very short yellow and get the light back green for the major road in minimum time.  This beats the usual alternative of holding traffic on the cross street to a long interval while even well-separated main-road traffic keeps tripping a loop...

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 19, 2017 9:19 PM

RME

Something my father taught me about fast driving:  the 'second for every 10 mph' rule, and the reaction time allowance, apply not to "the car in front of you" in traffic, but the third or fourth one up.  If you cannot clearly see that far in front, you have no business endangering yourself or others with a two-second following distance. You watch the relative speed, attitude, and brake lights way up there and start your reactions accordingly.

and with this goes something else: if you have to brake, pump a couple of times quickly to warn the person following close behind, and stretch the stop if you can so they don't hit *you*.

This isn't how they drive in Boston... but that's why I don't drive in Boston if I can avoid it.

i find there are still plenty of places in the Northeast where lights are timed to a particular speed.  Annoyingly of course there are also no few areas where the effective light timing is to KEEP you from going at the 'right' speed -- some cities do this to dissuade people from using certain streets as thoroughfares, or to get you to stop in the CBD.  So of course you wind up 'driving the pattern' to make the lights.

Almost everywhere I go, the 'computerized' lights are either on roads with widely spaced intersections or on side streets going onto high-speed roads.  Seldom do these things have extended detection loops for the 'highway' direction, but they are usually counting the cars at that 'side' entrance so they can use very short yellow and get the light back green for the major road in minimum time.  This beats the usual alternative of holding traffic on the cross street to a long interval while even well-separated main-road traffic keeps tripping a loop...

 

Agreed, that's how I was taught to drive as well.

Here in the Baltimore suburbs, Baltimore County, Harford County, etc, and most of Maryland from what I have noticed, they have completely stopped using detection loops in the pavement. Nearly all signals have detectors on the poles with the signals and they are clearly monitoring both the main and side street based on the number and position of the detectors.

You can clearly see the difference in reaction times and sequence based on the flow of all traffic paths. When the main is busy, cars are allowed stack up somewhat on the side street. When the main is light, one car will trip the light right away.

Yes, in the inner city older systems with timed lights and only partial detection are still in use, but I suspect will disappear as maintence requires their repalcement.

It seems that out here in the suburbs they are constantly upgrading and replacing traffic signals that don't seem that old, even with no change in the roadway layout of the intersection.

Virtually all older signals supported on two poles with messenger wires are being replaced with cantilever poles and pole mounted detectors for every lane.

In another life, about 35 years ago, I was a project manager in electrial construction and did my share of traffic light installs. I'm sure its way more cmplex now....

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, March 19, 2017 11:34 PM

Lets see.   If Detroit <>  CHI has a lot of 110 MPH tracks and if a non stop could average 90 MPH the enroute time would be about 3:10 block to block.  The usual 10 stops appear to take ~ 5 minutes max each giving the enroute time of ~ 4:00 compared to today's 5:15 - 5:45.  Amtrak needs to decrease dwell time for each minutes of average dwell makes a total of 10 minutes difference.

Note:  CHI <> STL essentially same distance with one less stop.  two routes that should operate very similar.

 

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, March 20, 2017 7:58 AM

Robert, I do not understand your reference to the old SAL; the Autotrain uses the former ACL except for a very short stretch in Georgia. Incidentally, so far as I know, the SAL never had any ATC.

Johnny

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Posted by RME on Monday, March 20, 2017 10:54 AM

Deggesty
Incidentally, so far as I know, the SAL never had any ATC.

The only ATC applied to SAL would have been the divisions 'mandated' by the progressive Esch Act rollout (e.g. in the ICC orders of June 13, 1922 and Jan 14, 1924).  For SAL these would have involved passenger trains on one or two divisions of the Richmond-to-Jacksonville main; there might have been additional 'coverage' ordered in 1926.  The whole ATC 'push' was de-emphasized by 1928 (in favor of more attention to grade-crossing safety) and I doubt there was any particular interest on SAL in satisfying the ICC order of 1947 (re-establishing functional ATS or TC in the wake of the Naperville wreck and some other issues) so that it could legally run trains faster than 79mph later than 1950 or 1951.

Atlantic Coast Line apparently had 100mph stretches with no more competent "ATC" than intermittent-inductor train stop; if memory serves, they had at least one hair-raising accident which I recall involving a speed over 120mph on a single-track stretch signaled with semaphores (details like those tend to stick in even lame old memory!) which I'd think reasonable (or even remotely safe!) only with continuous full ATC and cab-signal indication.  But that was a very different railroad before 1967.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, March 20, 2017 11:17 AM

Thanks, RME. I have no SAL ETT's later than about 1945, and there is no mention that I recall of ATC in them (they do have the names of scheduled freight trains). I do not doubt that Mr. C. M. Davis chortled over the fact that while HIS road had ATC, "That Other Road" had none. Also incidentally, my father worked in the Tampa shops of the ACL, operating a locomotive crane, and so my mother was able to obtain trip passes for herself and her dependent children anywhere in the South.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Monday, March 20, 2017 4:37 PM

Ya know that might be it.

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Posted by JPS1 on Monday, March 20, 2017 8:49 PM

oltmannd

 

 
JPS1

Where outside of the Northeast Corridor are Amtrak's trains permitted to exceed 79 mph?

 

 

 

Empire Service along the Hudson from NYP to CP-169 (just west of Schenectady)  90-110 mph.  Harrisburg line Phila to Harrisburg, 110 mph. You may consider these NEC branches though. 

I don't view the Empire Service along the Hudson as part of the NEC.  

What gave rise to my question is a You Tube video purportedly showing the Lake Shore Limited going through Colonie, NY at 110 mph.

According to the person(s) who shot the video it was #48.  It had a baggage car, a Viewliner sleeper, seven coaches, a heritage dining car, two more Viewliner sleepers, and a baggage car in that order from the locomotives (2).  

Presumably some of the cars are Boston bound.  How is the train separated at Albany-Rensselaer?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, March 20, 2017 9:00 PM

blue streak 1

Lets see.   If Detroit <>  CHI has a lot of 110 MPH tracks and if a non stop could average 90 MPH the enroute time would be about 3:10 block to block.  The usual 10 stops appear to take ~ 5 minutes max each giving the enroute time of ~ 4:00 compared to today's 5:15 - 5:45.  Amtrak needs to decrease dwell time for each minutes of average dwell makes a total of 10 minutes difference.

Note:  CHI <> STL essentially same distance with one less stop.  two routes that should operate very similar.

 

 

The middle part of the route owned by Amtrak has 110 mph runnng, and the eastern part of the route owned by Michigan is a work in progress.  The western part of the route is the busy NS Chicago line.  It may be a while before they run that fast.

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 7:28 AM

JPS1
Presumably some of the cars are Boston bound. How is the train separated at Albany-Rensselaer?

The front section of the train (baggage, viewliner sleeper, two coaches, AmCafe ) go to Boston with the P42(s) that brought the train from Chicago.  The rear section (four coaches, diner, viewliner sleepers, baggage ) get a P32ACDM at Renssalaer and head for New York.  And before you ask, it's a loonng walk for Boston sleeper patrons to get to the diner!

My understanding was that Capitol Corridor trains in the SF bay area are permitted 90 on some stretches.  I know I clocked a mile at less than 45 seconds (80 MPH) on the CZ between Sacramento and Martinez a few years back.

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Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 9:34 AM

Deggesty

Robert, I do not understand your reference to the old SAL; the Autotrain uses the former ACL except for a very short stretch in Georgia. Incidentally, so far as I know, the SAL never had any ATC.

 

sorry johnny, you are correct. Just making a general reference to the very fast passenger service sal and acl once operated.

 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 12:00 PM

MidlandMike
 The middle part of the route owned by Amtrak has 110 mph runnng, and the eastern part of the route owned by Michigan is a work in progress.  The western part of the route is the busy NS Chicago line.  It may be a while before they run that fast.
 

 
Yes the western part is NS.  That is why the many proposals for the south of the lake track to be built.  If it will ever be built ? ? ?  Infrastructure money ?
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Posted by MikeF90 on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 5:52 PM

erikem
The former AT&SF Surf Line has several stretches were 90 MPH is permitted. The line is equipt with inductive ATS.

Correct me I'm wrong, but I don't believe Amtrak maintains the ATS equipment on its owned LOSSAN corridor locos, and Metrolink doesn't install it on theirs. IIRC the schedules for both services assume 79MPH running maximum. There are few long segments between stops that could take advantage of the higher speed.

On a nostalgia aside, years ago I stayed at a hotel in Jean, NV several times for conventions in Las Vegas. Monitoring the scanner revealed that the Desert Wind regularly hit 90 MPH, perhaps in a "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement with the DS. Question

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

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