Tag Archives: signals

Goodbye La Junta, hello Amarillo: “Amtrak’s Boardman makes whistle stops in Southwest Chief cities”

Article:  Rail News – Amtrak’s Boardman makes whistle stops in Southwest Chief cities. For Railroad Career Professionals.

As much as I’d like to see the train stay on its present route between Newton, Kans, and Albuequerque, NM, I don’t see how this will work.

BNSF is already to the point where they run so little traffic over it that they are content to let the line slowly degrade.  In a way, this is sad because most of this line was once 90-mph territory thanks to the Automatic Train Stop system installed decades ago.  But the 90-mph speed limit is long gone the ATS having been turned off a few years back.  Almost all of BNSF’s traffic now moves through Woodward, Okla, Amarillo, and on to New Mexico via their “Transcon” that runs from Chicago and Los Angeles.

The cities and counties along the route certainly aren’t in a position to upgrade and maintain the line which means the states would have to kick in.  Colorado is willing, but they want the train to detour from its present route to serve Pueblo and that would add a lot of time to an already long end-to-end trip.

Streetsblog: “Talking Shared Space With Ben Hamilton-Baillie”

Article: Talking Shared Space With Ben Hamilton-Baillie.

This is a pretty interesting solution to a problem seen in older areas. Here in Oklahoma, where we really, really like our PLSS grid, this type of thing happens only rarely but back east — say in the Boston area — it’s common.  And, in fact, several stills in the article are of Boston and Cambridge.  Cambridge has even legally declared some streets as “shared streets”.

What’s interesting to me is that it’s counter-intuitive, that taking out signals makes things better for the motor vehicles as well as the pedestrian.  It is possible that some motorists have changed their route to avoid this intersection,  but I only have this film to judge from and certainly don’t have before and after vehicle counts  to show what’s happening regarding vehicle movement.

“The Triumphant Return of Private U.S. Passenger Rail”

Henry M Flagler Florida East Coast Railway

Story: The Triumphant Return of Private U.S. Passenger Rail.

Bit of a misleading headline.

The railroad in question is the Florida East Coast Railway, which is owned by Fortress Investment Group.  Fortress also owns  Florida East Coast Industries (FECI).  FECI, in turn, owns All Aboard Florida as well as the right of way that the FECRy runs over.  FECRy granted AAF an easement to run passenger service over the line.  Confused yet?  I am.  Part of the problem is that FECI used to own all the pieces, but it’s since been carved up like a mortgage-backed security.

Moving on, it’s AAF’s intention to run passenger service between Miami and Orlando via Cocoa, Florida, just west of the Kennedy Space Center.  Sixteen round trips per day are expected with trains capable of 125 mph with limited stops.  That’s not actually high-speed rail, but plenty fast enough for a three-hour trip time.   (Aside: If the one-way trip is truly less than three hours, as they say, then the company ought to be able to get two full round-trips out of a crew before their hours of service expire – by law, RR workers can only work 12 hours in a row).

The FECRy route is straight and flat so 125 shouldn’t be a problem once they install updated signaling.  West of Cocoa, the service will run over a new line to be built on an easement leased from the Orlando Expressway Authority that runs along Florida State Road 528, the Beachline Expressway, which will end at an intermodal facility being built at the Orlando airport.

But here’s the thing:  There is no “triumphant return” because trains aren’t actually running.  Trains aren’t running because there are no trains.  Even if they do hit their target dates, and I hope they do, then there is no guarantee that they will attract enough passengers to bring in enough revenue to cover their costs or get a satisfactory return on their considerable investment.

Yes, I am skeptical.  This is not the first time there has been an announcement that some company or another is going to run a passenger train and expect to make money on it.  There have been many of those over the years including one in Oklahoma a few months back.

There is a difference with this one in that they have actually executed legal documents with other parties.  IOW, they really seem serious.

We’ll see if there are trains running by 2015.