17.8.12

FREQUENCY AND CONNECTIVITY

Public officials in a number of Illinois cities are asking for more passenger trains. "'We’re not looking for high-speed rail, we’re just looking for more cars from Amtrak,' [Macomb state representative Norine Hammond] said."  Online (in the railroading sense of the term) colleges and universities provide much of the ridership.
Quincy Mayor John Spring talked of the huge increase in ridership along the corridor when the Carl Sandburg service was added to that provided by the Illinois Zephyr.

“This (adding the Carl Sandburg) was one of the best bipartisan pieces of legislation the state has ever embarked on,” Spring said. “Our part of the bargain was to provide the ridership.”
Now there are wishes for an expanded downstate service.
There was talk of expanding the coalition once it has a chance to get up and running. [Peoria state senator Darin] LaHood said he’d welcome an expansion to the Peoria area. [Gilson state representative Don] Moffitt talked of cities working together to someday persuade Amtrak to connect the Quad Cities, Galesburg, Peoria, Normal-Bloomington, Champaign-Urbana and Danville. He called it an “educational loop” that would provide service to at least 12 colleges.
Expanded rail networks aren't yet large enough that one line steals business from another. Participants in the meeting get that.
Officials were asked if they are concerned about plans for Quad Cities Amtrak service taking away ridership from the Chicago-Quincy corridor. Spring said the service is not seen as a threat.

“The Quad Cities, Rockford, we want more Amtrak service in this state,” he said. “We need to get these other cities connected. Ultimately, if we want to get rid of some of the congestion in this country, we need to put more people on trains.”

Spring said someone looking at license plates at the Quincy depot would see vehicles from Iowa and Missouri, as well as Illinois. He said he’d like to see Hannibal, Mo., eventually become part of the coalition.
Meanwhile, a railroad track currently capable of supporting 90 mph passenger trains is gloriously freight-only west of Elburn through DeKalb and on to Clinton and Cedar Rapids.

There are also encouraging developments in Florida.
Florida East Coast Industries is pursuing its plan to operate hourly passenger service between Miami and Orlando by 2014, reports the Miami Herald. The service would be privately owned and operated without any direct government subsidies.

The passenger service will utilize the Florida East Coast Railway main line and an additional 40 miles of track to be built to Orlando. Intermediate stops would include Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. FECI expects to start construction in early 2013.
We'll be watching for developments there.

In California, however, budget constraints -- some of which reflect reduced fuel tax revenues account more hybrid and electric cars in operation -- have led to a reduction of service in the Capitol Corridor.
Effective Aug. 13, train No. 553 is being re-designated as train No. 551 and two westbound trips, previously scheduled to leave Sacramento at 6:40pm and 7:40pm, will be merged into train No. 549, which will depart Sacramento at 7:10pm. The last westbound departure from Sacramento will remain at 9:10pm.
Nice to have enough frequencies that passengers are inconvenienced by no more than an hour at quitting time. One eastbound train will be replaced by a bus.

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