Jump to content

North Carolina Intercity Rail Transit


Noneck_08

Recommended Posts

I have been wondering about the potential of a regional Crescent service from Atlanta to Washington. This would provide riders with a daytime train between Atlanta, Upstate South Carolina, and Charlotte, a corridor that I believe has strong ridership potential that remains mostly untapped due to the current schedule. With a successful regional service from Atlanta to Charlotte and points north, this will hopefully get Georgia and South Carolina to take future SEHSR funding seriously. However, I'm not sure if it would have a negative impact on current Crescent, Carolinian and Piedmont ridership.

A possible schedule, based off the current Crescent schedule and accommodating current service:

Southbound Crescent Regional Northbound

8 00A Washington 9 49P

9 22A Charlottesville 7 05P

1 52P Greensboro 4 10P

4 15P Charlotte 1 42P

6 31P Greenville 10 54A

9 43P Atlanta 8 00A

Sorry for the whacky formatting.

This is similar to the schedule of the Southern Railway's Piedmont train in the 1970s. It had a few coaches, a cafe car and lots of freight cars hooked onto the end.

I think that increases in frequency probably cause ridership to increase at a faster rate than the growth in seat-miles. However, the Crescent between NY and Atlanta already has capacity constraints, so perhaps some Crescent ridership would also spill over to the new train.

I'm all for it. 2:15 from Charlotte-Greenville is too slow, though (for the Crescent it doesn't matter as much since it's in the middle of the night, but a day train would need to be faster).

Link to comment
Share on other sites


According to this post over at rr dot net the Carolinian and two Virginia trains (one to Lynchburg and one to Newport News) are approaching profitability according to the current Amtrak five year financial plan. http://www.railroad....art=60#p1014324 These appear to be the only trains outside the NE corridor that are close to profitability.

If this indeed turns out to be accurate then I think this makes a very strong case for SEHSR. In addition, if capacity limits have caped revenue growth on the Carolinian then perhaps a second train to DC / NY would be appropriate (equipment permitting). It looks like there are quite a few people willing to pay to connect to the NE corridor by rail.

That is very encouraging information and supports what I have always thought. The Carolinan is the natural extension of the NEC and this is the way HRS should expand in this country. I really don't like the way the La Hood tossed money all around the country to these grand plans.The FL plan bombed and the CA HSR is on the verge of imploding from it's own costs. Americans need to learn what rail travel is all over again and that takes time. Natural organic growth of the existing NEC is the most logical way to procede.

I'm not really that excited about super fast trains either, what we need are high average speeds, limited grade crossings and no delays. Americans will demand true high speed rail when they feel that rail ravel is an important part of their lives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There has been some movement on getting Charlotte Gateway station moving: http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/print-edition/2012/02/10/pitch-for-gateway-station-in-works.html

In summary, if everything goes well CATS, NCDOT and Mecklenburg County hope to have development partners lined up by June. This led me to wonder if there is any progress on the storage and maintance yard for the Piedmont and Carolinian near Summit ave? If memory serves this project was funded by the ARRA funds that are paying for the double tracking, I have visited the site recently but there is no evidence of site work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have googled the hell out of that maintenance facility in the past and not found a lot. Here is an old document that at least show the foot print, but that might have changed too. I am guessing they won't turn any dirt until all the property is aquired. Plus I am sure they will post a news release when they award the contract for it's construction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NCDOT is currently completing the environmental documentation for the Charlotte Maintenace Facility, which will be located SW of Uptown adjacent to Charlotte Pipe and Foundry. NCDOT is also working the Environmental documentation for the for the Mainline Track Improvements which will add an additional track from Orr Road to the Charlotte Wye east of Bill Graham Pkwy. This project will provide the tracks necessary to access the proposed Charlotte Gateway station.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Still not understanding why Charlotte needs a wye. Why aren't the Piedmont and Carolinian push-pull trains yet, with a locomotive on one end and a non-powered control car on the other?

Agreed. And I don't know why they can't allow the Piedmont, at least once a day, to go all the way to Morehead City so I can catch the rails to New BERN!!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreed. And I don't know why they can't allow the Piedmont, at least once a day, to go all the way to Morehead City so I can catch the rails to New BERN!!!!!

Because there are no stations, there is no signaling on the line east of Goldsboro, who knows what CSX would have to say about the at-grade crossings of their two lines in Selma and Goldsboro, there is street running in both New Bern and Morehead which makes things more complicated and slower still, and because adding service between Raleigh and Charlotte is a higher priority, and Asheville and Wilmington are the next priorities after that due to greater population and higher ridership potential.

Service to New Bern and Morehead would be nice, don't get me wrong, but implementation is much more than a matter of Patrick Simmons down at the DOT snapping his fingers trains rolling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Still not understanding why Charlotte needs a wye. Why aren't the Piedmont and Carolinian push-pull trains yet, with a locomotive on one end and a non-powered control car on the other?

Still not understanding why Charlotte needs a wye. Why aren't the Piedmont and Carolinian push-pull trains yet, with a locomotive on one end and a non-powered control car on the other?

I think it's probably just a matter of "Where do we spend our capital money - rolling stock or track improvements?" and the track improvements won out. I can't imagine there's a big cost difference between building the wye and equipping every trainset with a control car.

Control cars cost money to buy and maintain. NCDOT would have to either buy an old locomotive and de-power it, usually called "Cabbage" (which would be expensive) or rebuild an Amtrak Metroliner NPCU or SPV-2000 as a cab car (which would look ugly on the Piedmont and also be expensive), not to mention the additional maintenance costs.

A wye is a one-time capital cost that requires comparatively little maintenance. Plus, it is probably needed by Norfolk Southern anyway, especially with their new intermodal yard at the airport.

Now, when NCDOT buys brand-new trainsets for the Piedmont and/or HSR, THEN they will probably move to push-pull. But that's because a brand new trainset would be push-pull anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because there are no stations, there is no signaling on the line east of Goldsboro, who knows what CSX would have to say about the at-grade crossings of their two lines in Selma and Goldsboro, there is street running in both New Bern and Morehead which makes things more complicated and slower still, and because adding service between Raleigh and Charlotte is a higher priority, and Asheville and Wilmington are the next priorities after that due to greater population and higher ridership potential.

Service to New Bern and Morehead would be nice, don't get me wrong, but implementation is much more than a matter of Patrick Simmons down at the DOT snapping his fingers trains rolling.

Following up on this, it seems Amtrak is studying the idea of a Thruway bus from Wilmington to Selma, to connect with the Palmetto, Carolinian, and Silver Service trains.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Still not understanding why Charlotte needs a wye. Why aren't the Piedmont and Carolinian push-pull trains yet, with a locomotive on one end and a non-powered control car on the other?

NCDOT is considering the wye in west Charlotte due to the complexity involved in turning trains. The purpose of the Mainline Train Improvements (MTI) is to provide access tracks to the CLT Gateway Station (CGS) and remove passenger trains off of the NS mainline. Currently, passenger trains can turn at Atando by going up the O-line up to Statesville Ave or they can go down the R-line at Charlotte Wye and turnaround in South Charlotte south of I-485. By constructing the wye or another turnaround along the mainline, NCDOT can shorten the turnaround time between accessing the CGS, going to the maintenance facility, turning around, and then getting back to the CGS for departure back north.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NCDOT is considering the wye in west Charlotte due to the complexity involved in turning trains. The purpose of the Mainline Train Improvements (MTI) is to provide access tracks to the CLT Gateway Station (CGS) and remove passenger trains off of the NS mainline. Currently, passenger trains can turn at Atando by going up the O-line up to Statesville Ave or they can go down the R-line at Charlotte Wye and turnaround in South Charlotte south of I-485. By constructing the wye or another turnaround along the mainline, NCDOT can shorten the turnaround time between accessing the CGS, going to the maintenance facility, turning around, and then getting back to the CGS for departure back north.

Plus I'm pretty sure NS will need the wye at Charlotte junction so that north bound trains from Columbia can get to the new intermodal facility at the airport without a very long reverse move. The proposed wye is located about here .

Edited by thetrick
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cedar Grove is taking the news about NCRR double tracking and crossing removal much more maturely than the folks in Harrisburg:

http://www.salisburypost.com/News/030612-China-Grove-NC-Railroad-Co-NCDOT-double-track-project-update-qcd

All the uproar in Harrisburg did surprise me since I had thought all the modifications were going to be within the NCRR ROW. Are the houses in question in Harrisburg encroaching on the ROW or are the tracks being dramatically realigned there?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a brief interview with Gene Conti in the Engineering News Record: http://enr.construction.com/infrastructure/transportation/2012/0312-qa-with-ncdots-gene-conti-tolling-high-speed-rail-loom.asp

Two relevant quotes:

[discussion of ARRA funded rail improvements CLT-RGH] It's easy to envision commuter services building off that intercity service.

[asked about what he would like to see in the new Federal Transportation Bill] We would like to invest more dollars in rail. We should be able to if we're relieving highway congestion as a result.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Sounds like some design changes have been proposed to mitigate the concerns presented by residents in Harrisburg, including fewer property takings, converting the Roberta Road extension into a four-lane bridge, and leaving part of Shamrock Road open that was slated for closure.

All in all, NCDOT has done a pretty good job of being responsive to community concerns for its high speed rail project, The concerns about the route through downtown Raleigh were facing similar public uproar until NCDOT proposed the 'NC5' alternative which basically everybody is OK with.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Sidenote, but I was just looking at the NCDOT equipment list at bytrain.org.

Why did the NCDOT ever buy sleeping cars? Seems a bit much for short-distance and daytime-only trains.

My read on the notes in the equipment list (e.g. "to 400006-2") is that the two sleepers are being converted to coaches. ( 400006-2 corresponds to the 66 seat "Plot Hound" car, 400007-2 corresponds to the "Channel Bass"). This is merely based on my interpretation of the table, I could be wrong.

It is my uninformed impression that NCDOT has done a good job acquiring and refurbishing rolling stock cheaply -- the heritage coaches are certainly nice. I am also very glad they have some surplus equipment, based on my 4 or 5 rides on the Piedmont since Christmas we are approaching time to regularly run with three coaches plus the baggage lounge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The February Amtrak Monthly Report is out and reports that Piedmont ridership is up 27.5% over February 2011 (12,634 this year vs. 9,911 last year). This was the second highest ridership growth rate on Amtrak, it was only 0.1% less than growth in the Lynchburg / NE corridor service. Piedmont ticket revenue is up 42.7% during the same period (this was the highest growth in the Amtrak system -- and February was one of Amtrak's best months ever).

A brief calculation shows this ridership is around 109 people per train, and the consist is generally two 66 seat coaches (132 seat capacity) -- it really is time for another coach in the standard consist.

Conversely the Carolinian had a small ridership decline (and slight ticket revenue increase). I am guessing (but am not certain) that this indicates it is running close to capacity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Carolinian has been running at or near capacity for years now. They really need to tack another 2 coaches on that train, but rumor has it that the layover track in CLT is not long enough. The Carolinian cannot be lengthened until the S. Graham St yard is operational in Charlotte.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is becoming more and more apparent that Wisconsin will have to sell there almost completed Talgo trains because of budget cuts. These trains are in use on the Amtrak cascades service serving Vancouver, Seatlle, and Portland. These cars are trainsets, meaning It is really just one long rail car and they tilt around curves allowing for higher speeds. The Talgo trains are the closest you get to high speed rail with diesel power in appearance. Would NCDOT consider these trainsets, Talgo will most likely have to resell them anyway at a cheaper price even though they have yet to turn a wheel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.