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Amtrak 40th Anniversary Stops in Jacksonville

Amtrak's 11-month-long touring train exhibit, to celebrate 40 years as "America's Railroad", is coming to an end mid-March, with just four stops left. Metrojacksonville was there to commemorate Feb. 11-12 at Amtrak Jacksonville Station for a look into the company's historic past, and its promising future.

Published February 17, 2012 in Transit      11 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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About The Exhibit






To mark the rail station and service company's first operating day in 1971, a specially-crafted exhibit train with displays of photographs, uniforms, china, and other memorabilia set out to hit 38 cities' local Amtrak stations nationwide. The mobile, real-to-life archive began rolling May 7, National Train Day, at headquarters' Union Station in Washington, D.C. Jacksonville played host to the free event the second weekend in February from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. Attendees traversed a long stretch of a seven-car train, each car characteristically different. The exhibit was intended to condense and showcase the company's past four decades, allowing the public to see exactly how they would have experienced ridership 40 years ago.  







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Amtrak turns 40 this year — and we’ve just completed a year of record ridership, and we’re on track for another. Amtrak serves more than 500 communities nationwide, more than 150 of them rural; more than half of our destinations are served exclusively by our long- distance trains.  Since 2000, our ridership has risen nearly 37 percent.

In a time of straightened oil supplies and rising gas prices, we’ve cut our diesel fuel use significantly — 9 percent since 2005, at a time when we were adding trains and increasing our ridership.  Today, we’re 20 percent more fuel efficient than the airlines, and 30 percent more efficient than automobiles.  
http://www.amtrak40th.com/amtraks-history/amtrak-today








External Display




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P40 822, built for Amtrak in 1993 by General Electric in Erie, Pa., this 4,000 horse power locomotive will provide the pulling power for the Exhibit Train.  It was originally based in New Orleans and operated on various long distance routes.  The 822 was later reassigned to Albany, N.Y. and operated in the northeast until stored as surplus in 2003.  It was selected as one of the 15 P40 locomotives to be upgraded and returned to service as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.



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Sleeper 10020, built in 1950 by the Budd Company for the Union Pacific as Sleeper #1404 and named, “Pacific Bend.” It contained 10 roomettes and 6 double-bedrooms, and joined the Amtrak fleet in 1971 as Sleeper #2603.  The car was upgraded from steam heat to Head End Power (HEP) in 1977 and renumbered 2903.  In 1997, the car was converted for service as a crew dormitory for use on eastern long distance trains, and renumbered 2504.  Stored in 2006, the car remained inactive until 2007, when it was modified for use by the Amtrak Police Department as a Special Communications Car.  It was renumbered 10020 and renamed “Pacific Command” at that time.  The original name, “Pacific Bend,” has since been reapplied and the car will serve as a Sleeper for Amtrak staff during the 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train’s tour.



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NPCU 406, built for Amtrak in July 1988 by EMD as a 3,000 horse power F40PH locomotive number #406, was rebuilt as Non Powered Control Unit #406 in 2011 at the Beech Grove, Ind., maintenance facility.  As a locomotive, the 406 operated all over the country on various routes before being stored in 2001.  It was slated to become an NPCU to augment the push-pull fleet, and chosen to be part of the Exhibit Train because it can control a locomotive without the expense of additional fuel, allowing a train to operate in either direction without turning around.  It will also provide Head End Power (HEP) to power the lights and HVAC systems onboard the train.



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Display Car 10094, built in 1957 by the Budd Company as Baggage car #3547 for the ATSF, this car became part of the Amtrak fleet in 1971 and was renumbered 1061.  In 1978 it was upgraded from steam heat to Head End Power (HEP), and renumbered 1228.  Needing heavy repair, the car was stored in 2009 at Beech Grove until selected as one of the three 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train Display Cars.

Train Equipment Info: http://www.amtrak40th.com/exhibit-train/restoring-the-exhibit-train


Internal Display




























For more info: http://www.amtrak40th.com/

Photos by Ennis Davis.







11 Comments

mbwright

February 17, 2012, 08:57:44 AM
The Am-shack looks much nicer than I had remembered.  I don't recall any of the covered areas the last time I took it (yes, it's been a while).  Too bad it was not downtown.  Would hve been nice to see in Tallahassee, but it is not on the list of stops.  The station and Amtrak sign are here, just not in use.  With the increase in ridership, I would think Jax to Tally to Pensacola-Mobile - New Orleans  and other towns, would be a no brainer. 

tufsu1

February 17, 2012, 09:32:35 AM
the return of service between Jax and New Orleans has been a top Amtrak priority for several years....but with Congress playing with Amtrak's capital allocations every year, it just hasn't been feasible.

peestandingup

February 17, 2012, 11:34:59 AM
the return of service between Jax and New Orleans has been a top Amtrak priority for several years....but with Congress playing with Amtrak's capital allocations every year, it just hasn't been feasible.

What a pathetic joke of a transit system we have in this country. "You wanna go north or south, you're good. You wanna go east or west? Yeah, you're pretty much fu*ked." Tell people in Europe or Asian countries they can't go a certain direction & see how that sits.

mtraininjax

February 17, 2012, 12:52:13 PM
Actually the Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle is one of their most popular and profitible routes. I saw numbers of a few years ago where they had more than 500,000 riders per year on that route. The Sunset Limited was closer to 15% of that number and then East of New Orleans, the numbers were less than 5% of that number, so they shut it down.

Depending on if you life in Brown or Crenshaw's districts, one is for Amtrak, the other would rather cut it, so it is tough to get a ground swell for Jacksonville when our own leaders cannot get on board, literally.

Dashing Dan

February 17, 2012, 04:05:25 PM
The exhibit was very interesting.  A number of interest groups had tables set up, including the National Association of Rail Passengers, and a group involved with the preservation of the Palatka train station.  If I can find their flyer I will post a link.

exnewsman

February 17, 2012, 05:26:26 PM
Actually the Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle is one of their most popular and profitible routes. I saw numbers of a few years ago where they had more than 500,000 riders per year on that route. The Sunset Limited was closer to 15% of that number and then East of New Orleans, the numbers were less than 5% of that number, so they shut it down.

Depending on if you life in Brown or Crenshaw's districts, one is for Amtrak, the other would rather cut it, so it is tough to get a ground swell for Jacksonville when our own leaders cannot get on board, literally.


Brown wants to see rail grow, especially from NE Florida. Wants to grow Amtrak west to NOLA

Ocklawaha

February 17, 2012, 11:25:01 PM
To REALLY complete the Amtrak map East of the Mississippi, 4 long distance and 2 regional routes need to reopen for passenger trains:

(connections north and south)

JACKSONVILLE-Tallahassee-Pensacola-Mobile-Biloxi-New Orleans AKA: THE GULF WIND

MIAMI/TAMPA - JACKSONVILLE-Valdosta-Macon-Atlanta-Chattanooga-Knoxville-Cincinnati (3 way split) Cincinnati -Indainapolis-Chicago/Cincinnati-Lima - Detroit / Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland-Buffalo AKA: ROYAL PALM/PONCE DE LEON

MIAMI/TAMPA - JACKSONVILLE-Savannah-Columbia-Charlotte-Lynchburg-Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia-New York AKA: CAROLINA SPECIAL

MIAMI/TAMPA - JACKSONVILLE-Waycross-Manchester-Taladega-Birmingham-Corinth-Memphis-Cario-Champaign-Chicago AKA: CITY OF MIAMI

JACKSONVILLE - Starke - Waldo - Ocala - Wildwood - Dade City - Lakeland - Tampa / Lakeland - Arcadia - Ft. Myers AKA: PALMLAND

JACKSONVILLE - Savannah - (Augusta or Macon) - Atlanta - Chattanooga - Nashville - Louisville - St. Louis / Chicago AKA: THE HUMMINGBIRD

Amtrak also needs to add to the Florida train frequency on existing routes, from the current 2, to 6 running NYC-JAX-MIAMI/TAMPA. South of Jacksonville: 2 - Ocala-Lakeland-Tampa, 2 -Daytona-Melbourne-West Palm-Miami 2 - Palatka-Orlando-Winter Haven-Sebring-West Palm-Miami

Tampa - Bartow - West Lake Wales - Sebring - West Palm - Miami : AKA: CROSS FLORIDA SHORTLINE/SILVER PALM

OCKLAWAHA


Dashing Dan

February 21, 2012, 07:51:59 AM
The exhibit was very interesting.  A number of interest groups had tables set up, including the National Association of Rail Passengers, and a group involved with the preservation of the Palatka train station.  If I can find their flyer I will post a link.

Unlike Jacksonville, Palatka already has Amtrak service to its historic downtown train station, with connecting local bus service.

Here's the link to the Palatka Railroad Preservation Society, Inc. 

www.railsofpalatka.org

Ocklawaha

February 21, 2012, 09:32:44 AM
PALATKA: This city is an example of what a little civic pride and determination can do. When the Amtrak network with it's focus on what they called "end point terminals," was developed, Palatka and literally thousands of communities from coast to coast were cut out of the system.

The thinking at the time was that railroaders couldn't run successful passenger trains, (read that profitable) so a battalion of airline, bus, motor coach officials were recruited to "make" Amtrak a 'success.'  These people like most modern American's completely missed the point that trains are not so much in the market to sell a ticket from Chicago to Los Angeles, as opposed to hundreds of tickets from Chicago to Newton KS, Las Vegas NM, Gallup NM, etc. It boils down to this definition:

Within the schedule of serving a long-distance market, hundreds of micro-corridors exist. Amtrak is more about Jessup, Palatka, Okeechobee, Winslow and Havre, then it is Chicago, Miami or New Orleans.

So how do we educate Amtrak and our state or federal government so that they understand what rail does best. This is not to say that express trains with very limited stops shouldn't exist, but the benefit of rail is offering a coach seat superior to a first class airline seat in small markets all across the country. In a perfect world we'd have fast, frequent trains between every city pair with a population of 100,000 or more, some express, some locals.

Trains don't fly but the nearly 14,000 annual passengers boarding in Palatka speak well for these smaller markets. While Airlines, bus, and Amtrak all offer services to larger cities, but through the agency of Amtrak, smaller communities can have a choice of modes and comfort, previously available only to the big dogs. Palatka, did EVERYTHING right to get that train service restored, and they've been a smashing success story.

The official Florida State Passenger Rail Plan, with it's single line down the east coast, and a single route from Tampa to Cocoa  via Orlando is a sorry excuse for planning. There is NO rail connection between Orlando and the coast but some are willing to dump millions of scarce dollars for this FDOT proposed rail link, when entire cities, Ocala, Waldo-Gainesville, Sarasota, Ft.  Myers, Tallahassee, Pensacola and many others are being ignored.

OCKLAWAHA

Dashing Dan

February 21, 2012, 09:48:48 AM
Very well put, Ock!  I could not agree more.

mbstout

February 24, 2012, 12:29:15 PM
I just had to take the Amtrak connecting bus from downtown Norfolk, VA to the Newport News station for a trip back to NY. I'm happy to see that this Navy town, similar to Jax, is working on getting DIRECT Amtrak service to the larger population base of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, & the VA Beach metro area WITHOUT having to be bused to an AmShack on the peninsula across the bay.

http://hamptonroads.com/2011/10/norfolk-amtrak-schedule-will-allow-day-trips-dc

Also happy to see that it would more or less tie into the existing light rail line at Harbor Park.
There was a lot of press there recently of how well the light rail is doing and is exceeding ridership, and business around stations have seen increased revenue.
http://hamptonroads.com/2012/02/sixmonthold-norfolk-light-rail-beating-expectations

All of this Jacksonville could learn from:
Move Amtrak back downtown
Invest in commuter rail
Stimulate nodes of economic activity
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