14.3.17

FREQUENCY, CONNECTIVITY, AND AESTHETICS.

Travel and Trains considers the case for Regional Rail, outside the Amtrak and 403(b) state-supported nexus.
In order to have a fighting chance at profitability, passenger trains need passengers. Lots of them. Enough ridership to generate enough revenue to make the enterprise work. As a practical matter, that means any new for-profit passenger service has to operate along high-density corridors or, at the very least, provide a connection between two major markets.

It’s encouraging to note that there are a surprising number of corridors that might be able to support profitable passenger trains: Los Angeles-San Francisco; Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati; Dallas-Houston; Chicago-St. Louis; Chicago-Minneapolis; Denver-Salt Lake City; Tampa-Orlando; Miami-Orlando; and a few more.
Unfortunately, locals aren't crazy about additional passenger trains, because of property values, or something.
Brightline [commencing service in Southeastern Florida] has run into passionate opposition from some of the residents along the route which already exists for the parent company’s freight operation. The residents claim that Brightline passenger trains running at speeds of 100 miles per hour on existing track will mean the end of there [c.q.] world as they know it.
Yes, there are good blue-state liberals in Connecticut who are on board with spending public money on infrastructure, as long as it's not straightening out the New Haven because that might make it harder to get to the yacht club or the tennis courts, and we will continue to follow the opposition of people in Chicago's northern suburbs to improving the Hiawatha service.

Perhaps, once the additional trains are running, we can think about making them look better.

Here's a Brightline set, apparently on rebuilt Florida East Coast tracks.



Provide a common profile to the coaches and the power car and you get the Mark Twain Zephyr (which will still win the creature comfort contest with that parlor-cafe-observation.)


Unattributed photograph retrieved from Railway Classics.

Or you could mimic the profile of an Electroliner.


In those days, two flag hoists took care of the pennant races in baseball.

More important than the aesthetics, though, might be interline ticketing.  These new train services will have their own fares and ticketing, and on lines where they share tracks with Amtrak, there's the potential for ill will as a new passenger gets on a train with the wrong ticket.

At least we're talking about adding trains to the Passenger Rail network.  First get the trains running, then give them free rein to 110 or 124, then tweak the schedules for connectivity, then work on interline ticketing.

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