The Jaxson

Community => Transportation, Mass Transit & Infrastructure => Topic started by: thelakelander on April 02, 2021, 07:59:14 AM

Title: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 02, 2021, 07:59:14 AM
Quote
(https://photos.moderncities.com/photos/i-TNpb2ff/1/L/i-TNpb2ff-L.jpg)

Amtrak has announced an ambitious plan that will expand its passenger rail operations in Florida. Is it time for Jacksonville's leaders to get serious about putting money behind a 20 year dream to bring passenger rail back to Downtown Jacksonville?


Read More: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/amtrak-expansion-includes-jacksonville-are-we-ready/
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Charles Hunter on April 02, 2021, 10:29:01 AM
Yes - divert some of that U2C money to restoring Amtrak to downtown.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: blizz01 on April 02, 2021, 10:51:01 AM
I just want to go West. Hard to believe that there's zero rail service in Florida's state capitol too.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on April 02, 2021, 01:13:06 PM
I just want to go West. Hard to believe that there's zero rail service in Florida's state capitol too.

I found the interesting explanation below for no service from Jax to Pensacola and beyond in the comment section of this linked article:  http://www.northescambia.com/2021/03/amtrak-service-returning-next-year-to-the-gulf-coast-but-not-to-pensacola-or-atmore (http://www.northescambia.com/2021/03/amtrak-service-returning-next-year-to-the-gulf-coast-but-not-to-pensacola-or-atmore)

Emphasis added.
Quote
That’s not true. Amtrak made a survey of the rails through Pensacola on 2/19/2016 as part of a larger survey of 28 cities by the Southern Rail Commission. Federal Regulations require the railroads to undertake a great deal of expense and install positive train control, which is not installed between Pensacola and further east and south down to Orlando and Jacksonville (at least that was the case as of 2016). Following that, CSX sold the rail line between Pensacola and Jacksonville to a regional railroad concern – RailUSA – in mid-2019. I am only speculating here, but since RailUSA is not a Class 1 railroad (the largest size), I am guessing they will never be able to afford to upgrade to positive train control, nor do they desire to. This is probably the biggest reason Amtrak won’t be seen through Pensacola any time soon. The only thing that would probably change that is the railroad, state and/or federal government dumping a ton of money on improving the line and upgrading to positive train control. I’m guessing that will never happen.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: acme54321 on April 02, 2021, 01:22:06 PM
This is what I said in the other thread.  The line was sold to a class III.  It's 400 miles long and doesn't have a bunch of traffic.  The condition of the line isn't going to get better unless an outside entity funds it.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on April 02, 2021, 02:50:13 PM
^ In my experience, capitals (starting with Washington, DC) usually get superior infrastructure due to the "decision makers" living there wanting to take care of themselves above all others.  So, it would seem that Tallahassee could get this rail line and associated service in place if they wanted to.  Doesn't seem it would be that much of a reach politically speaking.  May just need someone to get eyes on it.

This might be a much better project ROI than building those west central Florida expressways for billions that almost no one asked for.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on April 02, 2021, 03:15:25 PM
^ In my experience, capitals (starting with Washington, DC) usually get superior infrastructure due to the "decision makers" living there wanting to take care of themselves above all others.  So, it would seem that Tallahassee could get this rail line and associated service in place if they wanted to.  Doesn't seem it would be that much of a reach politically speaking.  May just need someone to get eyes on it.

This might be a much better project ROI than building those west central Florida expressways for billions that almost no one asked for.

Challenge seems to be that the "decision makers" here don't care about using rail to take care of themselves. DeSantis has a state private jet. Scott had his own private jet. Legislators are generally more concerned about building highways through their districts to satisfy their developer donors than rail through a place they only stay in 3-4 months out of the year. They probably could get a service, but there's likely zero interest in getting one.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 02, 2021, 05:34:37 PM
More from Tallahassee about Amtrak's plans for Florida, including the Sunset Limited:

https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2021/04/02/biden-infrastructure-rail-train-amtrak-florida-tallahassee-pensacola-jacksonville-system-map/4838310001/
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on April 02, 2021, 05:44:02 PM
^ Ennis, this is behind a paywall.  We need you to please cut and paste the article.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Todd_Parker on April 02, 2021, 05:51:05 PM
Any estimates on cost and how much work would be needed to make the PO capable of handling passanger rail again? Does any track infrastructure exist around the location currently?
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 02, 2021, 06:45:08 PM
^ Ennis, this is behind a paywall.  We need you to please cut and paste the article.  Thanks!

I'd hate to cut and paste their entire article since that's how they survive, so here are a few parts. You can also see the article by signing up for a free account.

Quote
The White House's latest attention to the nation's infrastructure needs could mean more rail lines expanding out from Central and South Florida’s metro areas.

But the renewed focus on investing in passenger rail service also has spawned optimism that a suspended train route through the Panhandle may soon roll again.

Quote
But the hope is that securing more federal funding will eventually help Amtrak grow infrastructure out from hubs in Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa as it seeks a partnership with the state to make it happen.

“To start service, you need adequate infrastructure and a way to pay to operate service,” Magliari said. “We’d like to engage Florida and other states to build on the existing network to run more lines.”

Quote
There are still hurdles for restoring passenger rail to the Gulf Coast.

Ross said there are large swaths in mostly rural communities labeled “dark territory” where road crossing signals and positive train control systems raise safety concerns for operating passenger trains. The designation also limits a train’s speed to 59 mph, not ideal for passenger travel.

Additionally, the track's ownership is divided which would require both companies be engaged: CSX owns the line from New Orleans to Pensacola. In late 2018, the company sold the remaining 373 miles of track between Pensacola and Jacksonville to Florida Gulf and Atlantic Railroad, a subsidiary of Boca Raton-based Rail USA.

Quote
He said there are several different ways to approach restoring train service to Tallahassee, including prospects of running a line between the capital city, Jacksonville and Orlando as a pilot that could lead to it being extended across the Panhandle. 

“What’s achievable? What can we do?” Ross said. “What we feel like is, if that is successful that will bring people to the table.”


Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on April 02, 2021, 07:16:47 PM
^ Thanks, Ennis.  Agree about protecting the paper but it is impossible to pay everyone or register for one-off's.  FWIW, it looks like this paper is a sister to the Times Union of which I am a print subscriber so the overall company has my support  8).

I note that it appears the Wall St. Journal does let paid subscribers email articles to others at no charge.  It's a great way to promote the paper and maybe attract additional subscribers. Short of that, the one-offs are still eyeballs the papers can hit advertisers for.

I wish locally intense sites like papers could find a way to discriminate based on the locations of IP addresses so maybe locals pay and the rarely visiting far away readers can visit more freely.  Just a thought.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 02, 2021, 09:05:29 PM
^I agree it was a pain, but I did register by phone to read that one article. It's crazy to see so many media outlets talking about the Amtrak plan and what it may mean for their community, but the whole thing has been crickets locally.

Cleveland seems to be in a similar boat to Jax. They currently get 4 trains a day. According to their coverage of the Amtrak expansion plan, they'd go from 4 to 22 trains per day. Locally they are talking about brining Amtrak back to their old downtown terminal as well. I'd like to see Jax start to have these types of discussions. I doubt we'll ever see commuter rail anytime soon but a Pacific Surfliner type service in Florida could open the door for satellite stations in the region, making the system a potential commuting option between the burbs and downtown.

Quote
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Amtrak is planning a major expansion of passenger rail service through Cleveland and Ohio, part of the massive infrastructure investment outlined by President Joseph R. Biden this week.

If implemented, passenger rail service through Cleveland could jump from the current four trains per day to 22, according to All Aboard Ohio, a lobbying group that advocates for expanded train service in the state.

Quote
Despite his optimism, Nicholson cautions against impatience – any plan to bring new Amtrak service through Ohio will take years, even after initial funding is approved.

In many cases, communities – including Columbus – will have to rebuild train stations. Tracks and other infrastructure will have to be upgraded, as well, he said.

Cleveland, he said, may want to consider whether it should keep its passenger train station along the lakefront, near FirstEnergy Stadium, or possibly relocate it back to Terminal Tower, which last hosted passenger trains in the mid-1970s.

Quote
Another possibility being floated for Northeast Ohio: The addition of an Amtrak stop at or near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Ken Prendergast, public affairs director for All Aboard Ohio, said Amtrak brought up the idea of a multimodal stop near the airport during a February meeting with the organization and city officials. The stop would connect train passengers from across the region with air service options.

Nicholson said he’s thrilled with the possibilities. “I know there will be people out there who call this just another boondoggle,” he said. “This isn’t. This is a serious national transportation plan.”

https://www.cleveland.com/business/2021/04/major-amtrak-expansion-in-cleveland-and-ohio-included-in-biden-infrastructure-plan.html#:~:text=Major%20Amtrak%20expansion%20in%20Cleveland%20and%20Ohio%20included%20in%20Biden%20infrastructure%20plan,-Updated%20Apr%2001&text=CLEVELAND%2C%20Ohio%20%E2%80%94%20Amtrak%20is%20planning,Joseph%20R.%20Biden%20this%20week.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on April 05, 2021, 08:30:48 AM
The Times-Union finally cross-posted the article.

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/2021/04/02/biden-infrastructure-rail-train-amtrak-florida-tallahassee-pensacola-jacksonville-system-map/4838310001/

Any estimates on cost and how much work would be needed to make the PO capable of handling passanger rail again? Does any track infrastructure exist around the location currently?

I looked but didn't find any specific estimate for the terminal design proposed in 2004. It's also unclear whether any further work with Amtrak has occurred since then. Right now, all that really exists are the rotting, half-century old remains of a few platforms, and the FEC's connection to the rest of the country passing by at the edge of the ROW.

Seeing as this concept (https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2010-jul-bringing-amtrak-to-downtown-jacksonville-inexpensively) from MJ largely centers the cost as being platform, canopy, and track construction, all of which are relatively cheap. Going as far as building high-level platforms would only cost in the single-digit millions, based on projects in other cities. Track is about ~$3 million a mile, and building enough to connect the platforms to the existing rail lines (and build the turn onto the CSX line south) shouldn't be more than 2 miles or so. Covered walkways are cheap, and everything else is just a building out of the existing terminal building. Something in the neighborhood of ~$20 million should be more than enough to make it happen.

The only downside I see is that it might be considered a problem for Brightline to only have one side of a platform coming up from South Florida. But seeing as we haven't made a ton of progress towards commuter/regional rail anyway, it might make more sense to just build the closest 4 tracks & platforms to the building and leave everything beyond that to future expansion.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on April 14, 2021, 12:39:38 PM

a) I have not seen anything from Amtrak committing to spending more money on long distance trains.    Any expansions of trains services would be for state funded trains.  That means state government's ponying up $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to subsidize the trains.  Amtrak - being a corporation - gets to count those subsidies as "revenue".

b) Any increase in service for L-D trains is going to have problems with congestion on east coast mainlines, especially around DC and, down here,  the Folkston Funnel.  I'd imagine there's some others. 

Keep in mind, capacity expansion will chew through that capital very, very, very fast.  For example, Illinois + feds spent ~$2billion for Amtrak's Chi-STL train to improve tracks.  While it helped keep things running, it hasn't been enough to add trains nor run them faster.  The goals still is, someday, 110mph.



Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on April 14, 2021, 12:43:12 PM

To understand what Amtrak's likely play is, look at what's going on with Mobile - New Orleans.   A 3rd party along with Amtrak has some money to make some improvements needed to start passenger service to Mobile.   Amtrak will pay for all of it at first.   IIRC year 4 has to be 100% paid for by the states, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

To date I haven't heard or seen anything serious coming of Tallahassee indicating they're ready to throw a few hundred million a year at adding passenger service in Florida.   Until there's something serious going there, Jacksonville does not have anything to get ready for.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 14, 2021, 01:35:50 PM
^Returning the train station back to downtown has been discussed by these entities at least since 1993. 28 years later and there's still no resolution. The obstacle in the past three decades has been money. The gas tax will stimulate nearly one billion in local revenue that Jax does not have today. It is a very viable solution to the core obstacle. After all, isn't that the entire point of the gas tax? Generating additional revenue for transportation infrastructure projects and to stimulate economic growth and job creation as a result?

Here's some old stories from the TU's archives:

Quote
Proposal to move Amtrak station pushed

Newspaper August 7, 1999 | Florida Times-Union, The (Jacksonville, FL)
Author: From staff | Page: B-8 | Section: Metro | Column: City Notes

The old idea of bringing the Amtrak station downtown to the Prime Osborn Convention Center got a push this week from City Councilwoman Elaine Brown.

Brown used a meeting of the Transportation, Environment and Energy Committee to show fellow council members about ongoing work to develop a plan for putting the train station and the Greyhound station at the convention center.

The project would cost an estimated $40 million. The state Department of Transportation is working on a proposal for the Federal Transit Administration in hopes of getting federal funding for 50 to 80 percent of the cost.

The presentation was solely informational, but it showed how council newcomers like Brown are using their seats to spotlight projects they worked on prior to winning election.

In 1993, former mayor Ed Austin asked Brown to serve on a citizen committee to look at moving the Amtrak station, now located off 20th Street in northwest Jacksonville, to downtown.

Councilwoman Gwen Yates was enthusiastic, saying other cities have used transportation centers as a spur to revitalize surrounding neighborhoods.

The plan calls for keeping the Prime Osborn building as a convention center. The Amtrak station and the Greyhound station, which is currently in a downtown building, would be situated in a way that they would not interfere with convention business, said Lorenzo Alexander, the state's public transportation manager for the Northeast Florida district.

He said the state hopes to get federal approval by early next year for the location design. Then the state could put together an application for federal funding support if the project has support from Mayor John Delaney and the City Council, he said.


Quote
The goal: united transit The obstacle: cash Although the players are starting to ante up, there still are several hurdles to securing the $146 million needed for the project - specifically, how Amtrak will be able to supply the more than $40 million needed to move its tracks.

Newspaper September 18, 2006 | Florida Times-Union, The (Jacksonville, FL)
Author: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS | Page: FB-12
773 Words | Readability: Lexile: 1440, grade level(s): >12
Read News Document
ReadSpeaker webReader: Read News Document

Focus
The state government and a range of city and national entities are busily trying to scrape up the $146 million needed for the Jacksonville Transportation Center, a project that has been in the works for more than five years.

The project, led by the Florida Department of Transportation, would bring together a variety of ground transportation systems as well as officials who help keep traffic flowing, such as the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The entire complex, which wouldn't be completed for about a decade, is expected to cost about $146 million, although a third of the money is budgeted to move railroad tracks to bring Amtrak into the complex. That part of the project might be put on hold, said DOT project manager Craig Teal, pending an infusion of cash into Amtrak's anemic budget.

The rest of the funding is being pieced together from a variety of sources: The Department of Transportation has $13 million committed to general construction and another $8 million for the Traffic Management Center, the facility that will allow officials to do things such as monitor accidents and administer highway information signs.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority has received $1 million in federal funds earmarked for the project and is kicking in $5 million of its own money, and the city has pledged about $5 million - money designated for rejuvenation of the LaVilla area - that will be used for improvements of the roads around the center and of the Skyway.

The project, sitting between Park and West Bay streets and Interstate 95, has received support from the Jacksonville City Council, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission and the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The idea behind the center is to bring the various pieces of the transportation system together, allowing sharing of resources and making it easier for travelers to switch between the different systems.

"The big thing with multi-modal is you need to make it efficient to get from one mode to another, otherwise why not take your car everywhere?" Teal said.

His vision: Residents of downtown taking the Skyway to the center, from there they can transit to an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus, or even take a JTA bus to the airport for the next leg of their journey. To accomplish that vision is expected to take years, however.

The final public hearing on the project is scheduled for November, after which the DOT will officially begin designing the structure. The state money pledged for the project is scheduled to be dispersed in the fiscal year that begins in July 2009; that money will be used for the Traffic Management Center, which sits on the top of the structure, though, so the state hopes to have more of the money in hand by then, paying - at least - for the parking garage.

To get the rest of the $114 million needed, the state has been in talks with the federal government, which could pay varying percentages of different projects. At one point, Teal said, it looked like the Federal Highway Administration would kick in half of the cost of the parking structure, although no firm commitment has ever been made. Greyhound is investigating federal grant possibilities, and Amtrak is also looking for an infusion of federal funds, Teal said.

If the project doesn't get federal funding, it will still move ahead, although the timetable will probably get longer as the work is done in phases. "We're looking at different scenarios," Teal said.

One bright light on the horizon: On Friday, the department found out the Federal Transportation Administration was interested in meeting with the team to discuss funding possibilities.

Whatever happens on the federal side of the ledger, the state has committed enough funding to get things off the ground toward the end of 2009, with construction taking two to five years or longer.

"Something will be starting then," Teal said. "We'd like to build the parking garage and transportation offices and TMC all in one go. That's how multi-modal should work. But if we get a whole bunch of funding if we wait two years, it might make sense to hold some of the modules back."

Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on April 14, 2021, 02:17:14 PM
Speaking of money, TIGER/BUILD has just been rebranded as RAISE (https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-secretary-transportation-pete-buttigieg-announces-availability-1-billion-modernize), and grants are now available to apply for. Max of $25 million.

Also, that article is the first time I've seen a price tag for Amtrak. I'm hoping that $40 million includes all of this:

(https://photos.smugmug.com/photos/i-mdmt7cN/0/X2/i-mdmt7cN-X2.jpg)

In which case maybe with a cheaper plan such as this:

(http://photos.metrojacksonville.com/photos/941975084_FGia3-M.jpg)

we could pull most or close to all of the funding from a grant like that. But then I guess the other problem is that there's no one to actually apply for it right now. Or if there is, they might be looking to get something else.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 14, 2021, 02:31:59 PM
^All that will need to be updated. Some of those old numbers could have included components of the JRTC and the $35 million Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements project ($17 million paid via a federal match granted in 2019). Material prices and labor are higher than they were a decade or two ago as well:

https://media.news4jax.com/document_dev/2019/06/07/Jacksonville%20CRISI%20FINAL_1559947793261_21952599_ver1.0.pdf
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on April 15, 2021, 01:17:48 PM
After all, isn't that the entire point of the gas tax? Generating additional revenue for transportation infrastructure projects and to stimulate economic growth and job creation as a result?

Desolate unused buildings do not generate jobs.

See St. Pauls SPUD for the dangers in these sort of projects.  Virutally empty.  Sole long term tennant, a greek resteraunt, went bellyup after decaddes of operation.  Quarter billion spent.  Total flop.


Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 15, 2021, 01:38:39 PM
Transportation projects don't get built on their own. Someone has to get hired to provide the labor and produce the material.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on April 26, 2021, 10:38:29 AM
Transportation projects don't get built on their own. Someone has to get hired to provide the labor and produce the material.

Arguing for malinvest is never wise.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on April 26, 2021, 10:52:10 AM
That's what your city is doing at the moment:

https://go.jtafla.com/local-option-gas-tax

https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2021/03/17/mayor-curry-to-announce-plans-for-jobs-for-jax-program/

Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on May 28, 2021, 06:33:03 PM
Amtrak has published some more details about the planned Florida Network in this report (https://www.amtrakconnectsus.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Amtrak-2021-Corridor-Vision-May27_2021.pdf). Florida starts on Page 64.

Quote
Florida Network
Jacksonville – Orlando – Tampa – Miami
Amtrak envisions intercity passenger rail corridors throughout Florida; the vision includes:
  • 2 round trips between Jacksonville – Orlando – Tampa
  • 3 round trips between Tampa – Miami
  • 2 round trips between Orlando – Miami
  • Augmented by Amtrak’s Silver Service
This new corridor connects rapidly growing Southeast business, population, and tourist centers while increasing travel options through the communities along these heavily traveled corridors.

There's also a chart with estimated travel times:

Quote
Route     Endpoint Mileage     Endpoint Trip Time     Key Trip Time
Jacksonville - Orlando - Tampa2404:281:32 (Tampa - Orlando)
Orlando - Miami2674:364:36 (Orlando - Miami)
Tampa - Miami2584:344:34 (Tampa - Miami)

One thing that stands out is that these routes would apparently be comparatively cheap to start and operate (compared to any of the proposed routes in places like Georgia) but have enormous ridership potential compared to those routes. Obviously these trains would be slower than Brightline since they stop more often and are likely only traveling at up to 79mph vs 110-125mph.

To look back for a moment, and for context, there's the 2006 Passenger Rail Vision Plan (https://fdotwww.blob.core.windows.net/sitefinity/docs/default-source/content/rail/publications/plans/06visionplan/execreportfinal.pdf). The Inland Route is the equivalent of the Amtrak plan. With upgrades, the portion between Auburndale and West Palm Beach is capable of 110mph operation, which could reduce travel times between Orlando/Tampa and Miami by up to an hour compared to the Amtrak plan. It also proposed upgrading the portion between Jacksonville and DeLand to 110mph operation. This plan proposed many more round trips than the Amtrak plan does, but also would cost probably close to $2 billion to do so.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on May 28, 2021, 09:53:39 PM
So we'd basically go from one round trip per day to three. I'd love to see more but beggars can't be choosy. It would be interesting to see the times. Depending on the times, it could make sense to lobby for moving Amtrak back downtown and also opening up a satellite station in the Orange Park/Fleming Island area. In that fashion, Amtrak could become a commuting option between downtown and Clay County, which would bring TOD potential along with it. Any capacity improvements along the corridor could also make commuter rail along that line more feasible.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on May 29, 2021, 12:33:01 AM
Isn't it from two round trips to four, between the Silver Meteor and Silver Star?

But yeah, the Passenger Vision Plan proposed 3 round trips a day between Jacksonville and Orlando at first, going up to 5 round trips after upgrading speeds to 110mph. This doesn't quite get there, but I could see that being in order to try and get the service off the ground so that people get used to it before trying to hand it off to the state to serve as a partner like with the Cascades or the Midwest services.

We're probably far from having times, but that's definitely an interesting idea. It's also unclear what, if any, infrastructure improvements would need to be made for the line as proposed. The entire plan apparently would cost $75 billion over 15 years, but it doesn't say exactly how much of that would be in Florida.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on May 29, 2021, 07:46:02 AM
I'd have to go back and check but I could have sworn the Silver Meteor and Silver Star don't operate on the same day anymore.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on May 29, 2021, 11:58:03 PM
^ That was because of funding limitations during the pandemic. Daily service resumes June 7th.

https://media.amtrak.com/2021/03/with-increased-demand-and-congressional-funding-amtrak-restores-12-long-distance-routes-to-daily-service/

Now, the curious thing is what the added competition of Brightline could be whenever they get around to expanding this way. The design of the Cocoa Curve makes a Jacksonville-Orlando or Jax-Tampa service rather impractical, meaning that most Brightline services will likely go directly from North Florida to South Florida. (That is, unless they go and build a new section of track that then goes along SR 407 to connect to the track along SR 528.) If Amtrak can actually get the state & CSX to work on speeding up the area north of Orlando, they present a real opportunity for more competitive travel times in the future.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on May 30, 2021, 11:42:23 AM
If Brightline were extended to Jax, track improvements would be made likely be made where the new Beach Line corridor meets the existing FEC corridor near SR 528 and US 1. If Amtrak gets funding for additional service, that will likely happen and come online years before a Brightline service would. The fare would also be dramatically different, likely attracting a different demographic than Brightline. The corridors would also serve different communities between the major cities, possibly making them more complementary than competitive.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on June 01, 2021, 09:31:27 AM
But yeah, the Passenger Vision Plan proposed 3 round trips a day between Jacksonville and Orlando at first, going up to 5 round trips after upgrading speeds to 110mph. This doesn't quite get there, but I could see that being in order to try and get the service off the ground so that people get used to it before trying to hand it off to the state to serve as a partner like with the Cascades or the Midwest services.


The states have to fund it.   Except that Amtrak gets to do a punt and pray and pay for the service for 3 years.

Amtrak's like a drunk teenager with bottle of viagra right now.  They've had a ton of cash in their pockets now thanks to congress.  So they can afford to do all sorts of things.

But only for 3 years.  After that the states have to pay.

That's fine for Amtrak since it's a corp, those state subsidies show up on it's balnace sheet as income.


I haven't seen anything for rumors that there's a group in the Florida that's willing to take action - not just lip service - to push for state funding for any of Amtrak's Florida dreams.     Until then, I wouldn't make too much of the plans.   

 I mean, it's fun to dream and imagine and do those what ifs.  But I wouldn't be placing bets in Vegas on anything other than Brightline being bankrupt w/in the decade.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on June 01, 2021, 12:12:08 PM
It seems to me like the goal here, as I said earlier, is to get the service off the ground and get people too used to or too dependent on it for the state to not come to the table. They can't pull that off with the west corridor to Pensacola because of whatever complication exists with the freight railroads there. But they can at least launch a Florida service to all the big cities with relatively little money, since as-proposed they're not going to any destination in Florida they don't already serve. The bulk of the cost is going to be buying new trainsets (which ironically will likely be the same trainsets used by Brightline) and hiring new staff. And more frequent service should be a pretty big deal, even if it isn't as frequent as Brightline.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 01, 2021, 01:25:52 PM
 The key here I see is the opportunity to leverage an existing intercity line that would have more frequent service. Locally, we'd need to do two things if more frequent intercity service were established along the CSX A between Orlando and Jacksonville.

1. Get Amtrak back downtown.
2. Get an Amtrak station in the Clay County/Fleming Island area.

Both can be no frills but with more frequent intercity service (primarily if spread out throughout the day), you step into a situation where commuting between Jax, Clay County and Palatka could be another transportation option in NE Florida, laying a foundation for eventual commuter rail along that corridor. This option would also open all three stations up for TOD opportunities. That's about as cheap and quick of an option for something resembling commuter rail that you will ever see in metropolitan Jacksonville. That's a benefit locally and for Amtrak ridership.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Charles Hunter on June 01, 2021, 02:08:18 PM
Now if we could just amend the LOGT list to divert some U2C money to moving Amtrak back downtown.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 01, 2021, 04:51:08 PM
Now if we could just amend the LOGT list to divert some U2C money to moving Amtrak back downtown.

Hmmm... definitely supportable...
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Ken_FSU on June 04, 2021, 03:08:19 PM
Unbelievable.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/city-may-transfer-historic-locomotive-at-prime-osborn

Though rather symbolic of Jacksonville’s appreciation for rail.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Papa33 on June 04, 2021, 03:41:13 PM
Unbelievable.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/city-may-transfer-historic-locomotive-at-prime-osborn

Though rather symbolic of Jacksonville’s appreciation for rail.
Headscratcher.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: blizz01 on June 04, 2021, 04:49:26 PM
$50k?
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on June 04, 2021, 09:30:30 PM
On one hand, it would be pretty sad for Jax to lose this monument, seeing how long it's called Jax home.

On the other, is it really that bad if we're losing it for it to become an actual running locomotive again?

The only caveat I would really consider is that perhaps there could be a clawback so that if U.S. Sugar decides to stop operating the service, they have to give it back to us to be restored as a monument.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: acme54321 on June 04, 2021, 09:31:15 PM
The engine is in pretty rough shape.  This is a tough one, on one hand this would save the engine but another we will lose it.  I think it's current location is terrible.  Not many people know it's there.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: acme54321 on June 04, 2021, 09:33:17 PM
On one hand, it would be pretty sad for Jax to lose this monument, seeing how long it's called Jax home.

On the other, is it really that bad if we're losing it for it to become an actual running locomotive again?

The only caveat I would really consider is that perhaps there could be a clawback so that if U.S. Sugar decides to stop operating the service, they have to give it back to us to be restored as a monument.


Clawback would be good.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 04, 2021, 11:12:22 PM
What would also be neat would be to require it to make one excursion a year up to Jacksonville for the public to ride it here.

I recall as a kid parking at the ACL visitors' lot for evening and weekend events downtown (yes, their property was fully open to the public back then).  This engine sat in the middle of the visitors lot on an elevated platform and we often parked at its base.

Sad to see it leave Jax but glad it will be restored on behalf of a good cause.  Wonder what the restoration will cost.

This could have been a nice and unique tourist attraction for Jax if we took a pittance of the Skyway U2C dollars and partnered with CSX to run excursions from here.  But, that would require imagination, planning and effort.  Three strikes against us.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on June 07, 2021, 04:43:07 PM
The problem is those excursions are very expensive.  They cost far more than a pittance.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 07, 2021, 05:21:10 PM
The problem is those excursions are very expensive.  They cost far more than a pittance.

Perhaps, but they exist all over the US and the world... old time trains still run by for-profit companies making money.

One example:  The White Pass & Yukon RR in Alaska/British Columbia/Yukon was founded in 1898, runs up steep mountains, through ice, snow and tunnels and over trestle bridges built over very deep gorges and river beds, but manages to do well financially.  And, looking at their web site, fares for some excursions run to $239 so it looks like people will pay up for these rides.  Admittedly, its one of the most scenic RR's in the world but still...

https://wpyr.com/excursions/

(https://wpyr.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/WR22.jpg)

(https://wpyr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/wpyr-header-6.jpg)

(https://wpyr.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/WR05.jpg)

(https://wpyr.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/CF1_-229.jpg)
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on June 08, 2021, 02:31:05 PM
An old freight line revived to run passenger trains cuz of a bunch of tourists wanting to get off a cruise ship is nothing like "requiring them to run an excursion once a year". 
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: BridgeTroll on June 08, 2021, 05:00:18 PM
Wife and I did this one in North Carolina. Very nice...

https://www.gsmr.com/
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: acme54321 on June 08, 2021, 05:22:40 PM
The problem is those excursions are very expensive.  They cost far more than a pittance.

The real problem of an excursion from it's home rails to Jacksonville would be the other railroads (FEC or CSX) allowing them to do so.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 08, 2021, 06:45:34 PM
An old freight line revived to run passenger trains cuz of a bunch of tourists wanting to get off a cruise ship is nothing like "requiring them to run an excursion once a year".

The example given was not in reference to the once a year mention but to my subsequent comment below about how nice it would have been if it was a regular thing in the Jacksonville area.  I think the closest historic train here is in St. Mary's, GA.:  https://thegeorgiatrain.com/  Interestingly, its operated by the "Florida Railway Heritage Museum."  Go figure.

This could have been a nice and unique tourist attraction for Jax if we took a pittance of the Skyway U2C dollars and partnered with CSX to run excursions from here.  But, that would require imagination, planning and effort.  Three strikes against us.

(https://thegeorgiatrain.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/stmarysrr.jpg)
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 08, 2021, 06:51:21 PM
Wife and I did this one in North Carolina. Very nice...

https://www.gsmr.com/

We did this one a few years ago.  I especially liked the model train museum at the station.  An amazing collection they have there and the table layout is neat too.  Bought back my childhood memories of playing with HO trains.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 09, 2021, 11:51:04 PM
Unbelievable.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/city-may-transfer-historic-locomotive-at-prime-osborn

Though rather symbolic of Jacksonville’s appreciation for rail.

City Council approved transfer by 16 to 2 vote.  Another piece of Jacksonville history disposed of.  Akin to another demolition.  I didn't note any advance publicity about this that might have brought forward any local stewards to keep it here.  (Former CSX CEO and philanthropist Michael Ward would be one candidate that possibly could  have "engineered" its salvation in Jax.  And, just like former Navy service members trying to bring an old Navy ship to Jax, we have plenty of railroaders here who, similarly, might have stepped up to salvage this engine.)

Brian Hughes comment evidences his total disdain for Jax history and goes far to explain Curry's desire to demolish so much of our history on an ongoing basis.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/photo-gallery/prime-osborn-historic-locomotive-headed-out-of-town

Quote
City Council approved transferring the historic locomotive displayed at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center to U.S. Sugar Corp., which will transport the steam engine to Clewiston, restore it and put it back in limited service.

The vote June 8 was 16-2, with Council members Matt Carlucci and Randy DeFoor voting against Ordinance 2021-293.


Carlucci said while he voted to approve the bill in committee, he would like a couple of weeks to determine if someone in Jacksonville would like to see the train remain.

“We might go ahead and think this one through,” Carlucci said.

DeFoor said she objects to the locomotive having to leave Jacksonville to head off its gradual decline.

“Shame on us for not taking care of it,” DeFoor said.

Brian Hughes, Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff, said the plan to sell the steam engine was approved by the Planning Department and several Council committees, based on the fact that restoration and use hasn’t happened in the 35 years since the locomotive was placed outdoors at the convention center, where it is deteriorating.

“It’s a giant paperweight in a parking lot,” Hughes said.....

(https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/sites/default/files/styles/sliders_and_planned_story_image_870x580/public/343303_standard.jpeg?itok=xiN62z0-)

(https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/sites/default/files/styles/sliders_and_planned_story_image_870x580/public/343299_standard.jpeg?itok=X38MoOo2)

(https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/sites/default/files/styles/sliders_and_planned_story_image_870x580/public/343311_standard.jpeg?itok=IVLSSW3w)

Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Peter Griffin on June 10, 2021, 10:03:44 AM
Isn't it going back into service? Isn't that a better use of a piece of history than keeping it locked up in a parking lot like a caged animal?

Selfish to think that it was better off locked away in a little-used parking lot in Jacksonville than for it to be roaming the rails again. Selfish thinking on the part of those who lament this decision.

THIS IS AN ADAPTIVE REUSE. ISN'T THIS WHAT WE ALL WANT?!? TO PRESERVE HISTORY!?
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 10, 2021, 11:30:40 AM
It's sad to see it leave Jax but on the other side of things, we haven't done anything useful with it since 1960. Better to let it be restored and reused again than to continue rusting behind the ass of the convention center.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 10, 2021, 12:04:33 PM
Isn't it going back into service? Isn't that a better use of a piece of history than keeping it locked up in a parking lot like a caged animal?

Selfish to think that it was better off locked away in a little-used parking lot in Jacksonville than for it to be roaming the rails again. Selfish thinking on the part of those who lament this decision.

THIS IS AN ADAPTIVE REUSE. ISN'T THIS WHAT WE ALL WANT?!? TO PRESERVE HISTORY!?

I was just saying "Did we do everything we could to keep it both preserved and in Jacksonville?"  What community-wide outreach effort was made to do so?  Compare the little effort in saving this for Jax with all the efforts put into bringing a retired Navy ship to Jax that may have little or no historical connection directly with the City and that will cost far more to implement.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 10, 2021, 04:42:01 PM
^We clearly didn't do everything we could. But we had 60 years, so I can't complain that it's leaving.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 10, 2021, 04:49:39 PM
^We clearly didn't do everything we could. But we had 60 years, so I can't complain that it's leaving.

Note that for about 25 of those years the engine was still in the custody of ACL/SCL/CSX, not the City.  Also, I would only count years where "we", the public, were asked to step up, not a limited number of well informed persons.  On that basis, it appears "we" had close to zero years.

I do agree, sadly, that your proposition applies to many other situations around town, such as Fire Station #5, the Lytle school building, Brewster hospital building and so many others that we, as a community, watch  as they crumble or get demolished with nary a whimper from the public domain.  So, I am not suggesting the engine would have been saved locally but you don't know if you don't try.  It is clearly a unique and different historical artifact from buildings so maybe it would have caught more peoples' imaginations.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Charles Hunter on June 10, 2021, 05:13:11 PM
There is a local group that worked to preserve the engine. They were awarded $20,000 in 2014 for "cosmetic restoration" of the engine. 
The crux of the issue is in the text I bolded from the article.

Quote
From the National Railway Historical Society, Feb. 2, 2014
https://nrhs.com/preservation/north-florida-nrhs-chapter-awarded-20000-to-save-engine-no-1504-in-jacksonville/

The North Florida Chapter NRHS has received $20,000 from Trains Magazine and CSX Corp. to fund the cosmetic restoration of Atlantic Coast Line No. 1504, a 1919-built steam locomotive on display in Jacksonville, Florida. The magazine selected the NRHS chapter for its annual $10,000 Preservation Award, which was doubled by a matching grant from CSX. Displayed at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center, ACL 1504 has been outdoors for more than 50 years and is rapidly deteriorating due to exposure from the harsh Florida sun and salt air. In April NRHS named the locomotive to its 2013 “Most At-Risk” list of endangered U.S. landmarks.

...
“We are thrilled with CSX’s participation, and we hope this is the beginning of a long-term view of this locomotive as an important keepsake of American history that needs the best care possible,” said Trains Editor Jim Wrinn. “We would love to see more work on top of what Trains and CSX are funding, a roof to shelter it, and an endowment to ensure that this treasure is with us forever.

“Engine 1504 represents the nationwide plight of park locomotives that are exposed to the elements without adequate maintenance resources. We’re grateful to the coalition of rail history groups that have joined together to save this vital landmark,” said John S. Holmgren, president of the North Florida chapter.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 10, 2021, 11:20:44 PM
^We clearly didn't do everything we could. But we had 60 years, so I can't complain that it's leaving.

Note that for about 25 of those years the engine was still in the custody of ACL/SCL/CSX, not the City.  Also, I would only count years where "we", the public, were asked to step up, not a limited number of well informed persons.  On that basis, it appears "we" had close to zero years.

^ To further clarify, per the below linked article, it says it's actually only been under the City's domain for 22 years.

What would also be neat would be to require it to make one excursion a year up to Jacksonville for the public to ride it here.

....This could have been a nice and unique tourist attraction for Jax if we took a pittance of the Skyway U2C dollars and partnered with CSX to run excursions from here.  But, that would require imagination, planning and effort.  Three strikes against us.

^ The article also has quotes about the value of this engine as a tourist attraction, and, as I suggested above, that they have plans to try and bring it back to Jacksonville on an occasional basis.  So my post wasn't so far off the mark.

Quote
....Wood maintains there were other options to keep the locomotive local. Moving it inside the Prime Osborn or giving it a weatherproof structure could preserve it until it could join the proposed Museum of Science and History move to the Northbank area with the USS Orleck ship display and Jacksonville Fire Museum.

"It would be a great place to have a locomotive preserved for future generations and make it a critical mass for one great family attraction in Jacksonville," Wood said....

....Holmgren said the bill does say that if the Sugar Express project does not occur, then the historical society would have right of first refusal on the locomotive's return. He also has assurances from U.S. Sugar that No. 1504 could visit its old home again.

"We are trying not to lose the connection to Jacksonville," Holmgren said. "... The parties are working it out. It would be great PR for us, U.S. Sugar and their train system. We are hopeful that it will return to Jacksonville."....


https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2021/06/10/101-year-old-locomotive-headed-restoration-and-rails-clewiston/7592674002/

Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on June 11, 2021, 12:10:55 PM

It would also be great if I bought you dinner at BBs.


It could happen.  But talk is cheap.  Not sure CSX would be that interested in having it running interferace with their florida spine.  And FEC's rails are going to be busy-busy-busy with Brightline trains.

It can be done.  It would be cool.  But......





Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 17, 2021, 05:42:21 PM
Quote
Amtrak is a top travel choice in the Northeast. With an ally in the White House, it wants trains in the rest of America.

Josh Lapp drives on Interstate 71 so frequently that he knows to give himself extra time to get from his home in Columbus, Ohio, to clients in Cincinnati or Cleveland. Sometimes, traffic congestion is the culprit that lengthens a two-hour drive and sometimes it’s a crash — unless it’s both.

The 31-year-old urban planner spends upward of $100 on a rental car for each business trip, an expense that grows alongside his hours behind the wheel.

“I lose a whole day of productivity when I drive, but the highway is my only option,” Lapp said. A proposed alternative would bring a different set of wheels through the corridor.

The nation’s passenger rail service is eyeing the 250-mile swath across Ohio for one of 39 proposed new routes. Using its success in the populous Northeast Corridor as a model, Amtrak is pushing a $75 billion expansion to bring trains to dozens of cities and towns across the nation.

The ambitious plan coincides with the passenger railroad gaining a powerful ally in the White House, where new priorities in Washington laud rail and alternate modes of transportation. The proposal comes as the nation targets infrastructure investments to exit a coronavirus pandemic-induced economic crisis, while state and local officials increasingly are open to options that address highway congestion and climate change.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2021/06/15/amtrak-train-map-expansion-us/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F33a7edf%2F60ca23989d2fdae302812a6e%2F602627739bbc0f73f603d668%2F46%2F70%2F60ca23989d2fdae302812a6e
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on June 21, 2021, 07:19:51 PM
The key here I see is the opportunity to leverage an existing intercity line that would have more frequent service. Locally, we'd need to do two things if more frequent intercity service were established along the CSX A between Orlando and Jacksonville.

1. Get Amtrak back downtown.
2. Get an Amtrak station in the Clay County/Fleming Island area.

Both can be no frills but with more frequent intercity service (primarily if spread out throughout the day), you step into a situation where commuting between Jax, Clay County and Palatka could be another transportation option in NE Florida, laying a foundation for eventual commuter rail along that corridor. This option would also open all three stations up for TOD opportunities. That's about as cheap and quick of an option for something resembling commuter rail that you will ever see in metropolitan Jacksonville. That's a benefit locally and for Amtrak ridership.

Decided for some reason to mess around and create a station concept at what's now the Black Creek Park & Ride:

(https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/785394406445547520/856671498110500884/Black_Creek_Station_Concept.png)

This isn't really giving any thought to feasibility, just playing with the idea. It's along the lines of what a lot of rail stations look like in the Northeast. Essentially the track would become elevated north of CR220 in order to grade separate trains and cars, and cross 220 before heading right into the station. The platform would sit over the station building, which is connected to a relocated park and ride operation so that the buses can feed into the rail line. The existing station, surrounded by a relocated Sleepy Hollow Road, become the site of mixed-use infill that also provides riders. Moving the existing stormwater ponds across the street provides room for outparcels.

Now, this is just an idea, but I thought it might be a useful thought exercise for aspiring to make Fleming Island a more accessible commuter zone. Seeing as that Doctor's Inlet/Black Creek area is also included on the Commuter Rail Feasibility Study, it seems like a fitting location to really build a new multimodal area.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: Charles Hunter on June 21, 2021, 08:31:33 PM
Elevating hundreds of feet of double-track* railroad, perhaps plus a siding, would be tremendously expensive.  Seems it would be much less expensive to reroute Sleepy Hollow Road so the new train station will have direct access to the tracks.

* I know the current track is a single, but nearly all discussions of adding passenger service to the CSX line mention the need to double-track the line.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: marcuscnelson on June 21, 2021, 08:50:59 PM
I realize it would be expensive, my thought was that if you're going to redevelop the area it might be a good idea to prevent cars from being able to get hit by trains. It might not be financially feasible to do so, which is why it's just a thought. If you really wanted, you could probably just remove the elevated portions and put the station in the same place at ground level, and leave all else the same.

I figured it would be double-tracked in any case too, my assumption there was that it'd be done similarly to Brightline, move the existing track over, build a bridge, move the trains to it and then build the other bridge.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 21, 2021, 09:23:27 PM
It probably wouldn't be enough rail traffic to justify elevating the tracks. A ground level platform should be okay for Amtrak or commuter rail.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: jaxlongtimer on June 21, 2021, 11:00:55 PM
It probably wouldn't be enough rail traffic to justify elevating the tracks. A ground level platform should be okay for Amtrak or commuter rail.

Aside from relocating Sleepy Hollow, it seems it might be more cost effective to raise 220 over the tracks rather than the other way around.  Sooner or later, if traffic keeps building in that area, the locals might even demand it (see University Blvd. W and Baymeadows Road one block off of Philips Highway - albeit with an FEC rail-yard in between causing blockages before the bridges).
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 22, 2021, 06:55:27 AM
Many of the streets that Amtrak, Tri-Rail, Sunrail and BrightLine cross at-grade in Central and South Florida are significantly busier than 220. Definitely hard to justify the expense of grade separation for a few intercity trains. If Palatka ever transitions from coal as an energy choice, that line will have less traffic than its ever had. Grade separation more than likely means the site would not be feasible for a train station.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on June 22, 2021, 09:12:09 AM
"
If Palatka ever transitions from coal as an energy choice, that line will have less traffic than its ever had.
"

I'm not sure where you're trying to go with this one.   It's literally true.  But not much of a point at that level.   This line hosts quite a few trains.   And while the plant burns a few million tons a coal a year, that only translates into maybe a train a day.  I don't see how it would affect the situation much at all one way or another.

Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 22, 2021, 12:27:34 PM
I was typing quick and from my phone earlier and didn't have time to dig up data. Basically, where I was trying to go was to say that grade separation is not necessary or feasible (if we're assuming this would only be done to accommodate Amtrak or commuter rail) at County Road 220. With or without a unit train going through there.

Commuter rail being done by JTA to Clay County is a big pipe dream if anticipated before 2040 or 2050. JTA isn't putting any real effort into such a project on that corridor, so whenever they do, they'll still be a good decade or two before actually implementing something......if they got that far. In the event that an Amtrak station could be built there (big if, considering Amtrak still needs a big cash infusion for their dream scenario), what are we seriously looking at? Maybe up to 6 Amtrak trains a day? You'll stop at multiple phase red light longer than you'll have to wait for a  passenger trainset to get through there.

In South Florida, Brightline's stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are close/adjacent to at-grade crossings on highways with 67,500 (Okeechobee Blvd) and 46,000 (Broward Blvd) vehicles a day. That service has a significantly higher level of frequency and they'll soon be adding commuter rail to the mix. County Road 220 only gets 32,000 vehicles a day and the land use of Clay County no where allows for the type of density that is existing and increasing in South Florida. Same goes for SunRail in Orlando. There are several existing at-grade crossings throughout Central Florida with equal or higher AADT and the LOS of those highways aren't at the point of failure.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on June 23, 2021, 10:08:55 AM

One advantage of grade separation is that all trains -- maybe 10-14 / day? -- would be using it.   It makes the situation much, much, much safer.

IIRC there is an public facing FRA database for XINGs that includes listing of xing accidents.    If that crossing's been having some accidents lately, there may be some value in FDOT stepping up with such a project.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: thelakelander on June 23, 2021, 11:15:03 AM
10-14 trains a day isn't a lot. Definitely don't see FDOT funding a project here. It's not even a FDOT facility.
Title: Re: Amtrak expansion includes Jacksonville. Are we ready?
Post by: bl8jaxnative on June 23, 2021, 04:54:38 PM

I wish there was a lil button we could click to like give a thumbs up to a post to let the poster know "good points".    :)