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Thread: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

  1. #1

    Default Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Just a general curiosity and enthusiasm question here, but I’m wondering where we’re at as a state for applications and efforts toward increasing services, destinations, and connections for the Flyer. Who’s working on what? Seems rather quiet lately on that front (especially with lots of other states making splashy inroads to taking advantage available funding).

  2. #2

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    The rumor is Amtrak want to get as many of the state funded routes upgraded and opened within 5 years (of 2022) because the thought it there is a clearer path to getting them done and it can happen with less money. I would assume we haven’t heard anything because they are having negotiations with BNSF who owns the track that might have to stay confidential until it’s agreed upon and that can be hard since the freight operators are notoriously anti passenger rail

  3. #3

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    They aren’t anti-passenger rail. BNSF in fact operates their own passenger rail services. They just don’t have any need to work with Amtrak on it. Suppose you had a private highway from Oklahoma City to Wichita, no one else can use it. Your trucks go 60 mph on it. Now a bus company wants to use your private highway for their 80 mph motor coaches. You have to pull your trucks off the side to allow the bus company to pass. That’s why they don’t like it. They coexist where possible but remember it is their private rails and their customers who are inconvenienced to accommodate Amtrak. That comes at a cost to them for trackage rights. Whether or not that fits the Amtrak budget is up to debate.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    I don’t understand why people on this forum INSIST on everyone being wrong. You said “it’s not that they are anti passenger rail” then sentences later you say “that’s why they are anti passenger rail”. It is literally AGAINST the law for them to block the way for passenger service. I don’t understand why we automatically vouch for huge corporations that have been making record profit year after year on rails they didn’t even build, that got given to them by the government, and then lobbied to kill passenger service on

  5. #5

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by USSOklahoma View Post
    I don’t understand why people on this forum INSIST on everyone being wrong. You said “it’s not that they are anti passenger rail” then sentences later you say “that’s why they are anti passenger rail”. It is literally AGAINST the law for them to block the way for passenger service. I don’t understand why we automatically vouch for huge corporations that have been making record profit year after year on rails they didn’t even build, that got given to them by the government, and then lobbied to kill passenger service on
    They aren’t anti passenger rail. In fact the Raton Pass is owned, maintained, and dispatched by BNSF - yet they don’t operate any freight on it. Very likely they are losing money to maintain that subdivision and tunnel for 2 Amtrak trains a day. In Chicago they operate their own passenger rail service. Across the country they share trackage rights with Amtrak. They accommodate them when and where it makes sense for them to do so. But just because they have rails doesn’t mean Amtrak has an automatic right to use them. It’s literally their private property, they are probably going to want to use it for their core business first. Hence they negotiate with Amtrak when it is possible to accommodate them without major disruptions to their own business. And that access usually comes at a cost.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by catch22 View Post
    They aren’t anti passenger rail. In fact the Raton Pass is owned, maintained, and dispatched by BNSF - yet they don’t operate any freight on it. Very likely they are losing money to maintain that subdivision and tunnel for 2 Amtrak trains a day. In Chicago they operate their own passenger rail service. Across the country they share trackage rights with Amtrak. They accommodate them when and where it makes sense for them to do so. But just because they have rails doesn’t mean Amtrak has an automatic right to use them. It’s literally their private property, they are probably going to want to use it for their core business first. Hence they negotiate with Amtrak when it is possible to accommodate them without major disruptions to their own business. And that access usually comes at a cost.
    I don’t understand how a person as smart as you seem to be can’t seem to tell the difference between suburban rail and intercity rail. Weird. But based on UNITED STATES LAW they have to give way to passenger rail. Once again surprised a genius doesn’t know that. If you did know about it you would know that the freight railroads will not rebuild or replace sidings that are too small for their trains because they technically don’t have to and the government will not enforce a rule that forces them to yield because the infrastructure is not there. You mentioned highways. Why aren’t our highways private? Because of exactly what you said. Someone would by them and block people from using it. Why are rails not treated the same and built by the state and federal governments?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Low speed rail sucks-FACT
    Flying cars rule- FACT
    Bears beat Battlestar Galactica.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by catch22 View Post
    They arent anti passenger rail. In fact the Raton Pass is owned, maintained, and dispatched by BNSF - yet they dont operate any freight on it. Very likely they are losing money to maintain that subdivision and tunnel for 2 Amtrak trains a day. In Chicago they operate their own passenger rail service. Across the country they share trackage rights with Amtrak. They accommodate them when and where it makes sense for them to do so. But just because they have rails doesnt mean Amtrak has an automatic right to use them. Its literally their private property, they are probably going to want to use it for their core business first. Hence they negotiate with Amtrak when it is possible to accommodate them without major disruptions to their own business. And that access usually comes at a cost.
    BNSF does not run their own passenger rail service in Chicago. They are contracted with - and operate commuter rail service on behalf of - Metra, the commuter rail division of the regional transit authority for the greater Chicagoland area. Metra's BNSF line operates between Chicago Union Station in downtown and the western suburb of Aurora.

    Also, USSOklahoma is correct - Federal law does require that passenger trains be given preference over freight rail anywhere that Amtrak operates. For new lines of service, Amtrak will negotiate with rail carriers - but if they are unable to come to an agreement, the Surface Transportation Board is authorized to force the rail carrier to allow Amtrak access to their system if it is deemed necessary, per 49 U.S. Code 24308.

    The latest news I have seen on Heartland Flyer expansion was from October of last year, where ODOT, KDOT, and TxDOT sent a joint letter to the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration formally requesting the line's inclusion in the federal Corridor Identification and Development Plan under Biden's big infrastructure bill that was signed into law in 2021. This would enable federal funding for the expansion. As of December, this request is still working it's way through the system. See https://texasrailadvocates.org/post/...flyer-corridor and https://texasrailadvocates.org/post/...s-fed-approval for more info on that letter.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by baralheia View Post
    Also, USSOklahoma is correct - Federal law does require that passenger trains be given preference over freight rail anywhere that Amtrak operates. For new lines of service, Amtrak will negotiate with rail carriers - but if they are unable to come to an agreement, the Surface Transportation Board is authorized to force the rail carrier to allow Amtrak access to their system if it is deemed necessary, per 49 U.S. Code 24308.
    That federal law must apply only to Amtrak and not all passenger rail service. I took the Rocky Mountaineer passenger rail from Moab, Utah to Denver in 2021. We definitely had to pull onto a siding for any freight train. Amtrak does operate on that route.

  10. Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by USSOklahoma View Post
    I don’t understand how a person as smart as you seem to be can’t seem to tell the difference between suburban rail and intercity rail. Weird. But based on UNITED STATES LAW they have to give way to passenger rail. Once again surprised a genius doesn’t know that. If you did know about it you would know that the freight railroads will not rebuild or replace sidings that are too small for their trains because they technically don’t have to and the government will not enforce a rule that forces them to yield because the infrastructure is not there. You mentioned highways. Why aren’t our highways private? Because of exactly what you said. Someone would by them and block people from using it. Why are rails not treated the same and built by the state and federal governments?
    Lets not get in to name calling. Doing that just to try to pop up your own side, is not constructive and doesn't actually do anything other than make you look bad (and that you dont have evidence to support your side).

    But we do have this. It's called the Turnpike. OTA is about as private as roads get where you have to pay to use them. There are alternate routes you can take. They're just not as fast.

    If a rail company used anything other than private funds to lay their line, then they should be subject to control since the public has an "interest' there. But if they bought the rights of way and paid out of their own pocket to lay down the rail, then common capitalism says that the government should stay out of the conversation.

    Rail already has more rights than they really should. They're protected extremely well from anyone that tries to make them be good partners (like not blocking crossings, or shutting the F up with their horns while in town). Not to mention that they always seem to be in the way. But because they bought that land when it wasn't "in town", they are protected (the whole we were here first argument). I'd personally rather see the yards in Moore and near GM ripped out and moved. But it's never gonna happen.

    And as for passenger rail, well it's the same old chicken/egg thing. But unless there's a public/private partnership in this, then it will never happen. No private company is going to buy the rights and build a line across the country for high speed rail, even Musk. They have to partner with the government to do it, which brings a whole other level of involvement (and rightfully so). You can't tell me X number of people will use it when it's not even a concept yet. It would be an extremely expensive guessing game. And if it fails, we're all out the money. My magic 8 ball says that the short haul folks will probably continue to drive their own cars. And that the long haulers will continue to fly since it's so much faster. Rent a car or grab an Uber on the other end and you don't have to worry about if there's good public transportation on the other end.

    Other places where this works well, the distances are in that middle space where it's a wash between flight/car/train. The Eurozone for example. The US is just not laid out that way.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by bombermwc View Post
    Other places where this works well, the distances are in that middle space where it's a wash between flight/car/train. The Eurozone for example. The US is just not laid out that way.
    The entire point of the Amtrak Connects US plan is to identify these corridors where overall travel time is a wash and prioritize implementation of service. Many such corridors have been identified that will work *today*, including expanded service on the Heartland Flyer corridor.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by bombermwc View Post
    But we do have this. It's called the Turnpike. OTA is about as private as roads get where you have to pay to use them. .
    By that standard, I guess it's sorta private. The profits are private, but it was created by statute, the legislature picks where the projects go, and the governor is the top officer that can remove any board member anytime they want. Members of the authority are not paid, but I'm not sure if they, the legislature, or the governor are barred from investing. So, it may resemble a private entity more so than other toll roads (I honestly don't know how they work anywhere else), it's still kind of a stretch to use the word "private" to describe it.

    The OTA justifies its existence on its website based on inadequate funding of ODOT. Which, in a sense, just means it's a choice by the government to convert public utility / infrastructure services to a profit center for (mostly?) private investors.

    And as for passenger rail, well it's the same old chicken/egg thing. But unless there's a public/private partnership in this, then it will never happen. No private company is going to buy the rights and build a line across the country for high speed rail, even Musk. They have to partner with the government to do it, which brings a whole other level of involvement (and rightfully so).
    It's definitely clear that a private organization almost always needs to partner with government to produce large scale services and infrastructure in order to produce a positive return for private investors.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    I just wish Heartland Flyer ran twice a day each direction. I often want to come up for a Thunder game and have to come an entire day early because the train arrives at 9:30pm. It would be so much more viable with both mid-day and evening arrivals.

    Also, I really wish Amtrak would add a Denton/Sanger stop in between Gainesville and Fort Worth. I live in Denton and I am almost exactly a 45 minute drive from each stop even though the train runs pretty close to Denton. I feel like it's a huge lost opportunity. If you have to go that far to get to a station then people just might as well drive to OKC.

  14. Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    It'd have to be a stop in Sanger as the rail shoots under I35 between there and Denton and goes to Ft Worth.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by MagzOK View Post
    It'd have to be a stop in Sanger as the rail shoots under I35 between there and Denton and goes to Ft Worth.
    There is a spur that sits just on the west side of I-35 in Denton. Looks like enough space for a train station

  16. #16

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by dankrutka View Post
    I just wish Heartland Flyer ran twice a day each direction. I often want to come up for a Thunder game and have to come an entire day early because the train arrives at 9:30pm. It would be so much more viable with both mid-day and evening arrivals.

    Also, I really wish Amtrak would add a Denton/Sanger stop in between Gainesville and Fort Worth. I live in Denton and I am almost exactly a 45 minute drive from each stop even though the train runs pretty close to Denton. I feel like it's a huge lost opportunity. If you have to go that far to get to a station then people just might as well drive to OKC.
    If Amtrak is able to fully implement their expansion plans for the Heartland Flyer, there will be 3x daily service between OKC and DFW. Expansion plans here: https://www.amtrakconnectsus.com/wp-...et-FINAL-1.pdf

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by baralheia View Post
    If Amtrak is able to fully implement their expansion plans for the Heartland Flyer, there will be 3x daily service between OKC and DFW. Expansion plans here: https://www.amtrakconnectsus.com/wp-...et-FINAL-1.pdf
    Lets hope this can be done. For those that remember, the Lone Star (Amtrak post ATSF) was a very well used train, all the way to Chicago. Not only did I ride it, after hiring out on the SF, got to deadhead several times from Purcell to Arkansas City. You cant beat getting paid to ride a passenger train! The train was always packed.

  18. Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by dankrutka View Post
    I just wish Heartland Flyer ran twice a day each direction. I often want to come up for a Thunder game and have to come an entire day early because the train arrives at 9:30pm. It would be so much more viable with both mid-day and evening arrivals.

    Also, I really wish Amtrak would add a Denton/Sanger stop in between Gainesville and Fort Worth. I live in Denton and I am almost exactly a 45 minute drive from each stop even though the train runs pretty close to Denton. I feel like it's a huge lost opportunity. If you have to go that far to get to a station then people just might as well drive to OKC.
    Every stop you make, makes it take longer to get from point A to point B. Why not stop at the casino and Ardmore and Pauls Valley?

    OK Denton, that can make sense because it's where the 35's go together and it's the last big stop on the north side of town. But really the best way to get ridership here is to make it as much of an "express" as possible and minimize all these stops. The overwhelming majority of the traffic is from the main end stops. Anyone that gets on in Ardmore can drive to Ft Worth faster than the train is going to get them there.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    ^ The Flyer currently has scheduled stops in PV and Ardmore. Thackerville is currently being proposed.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by bombermwc View Post
    Every stop you make, makes it take longer to get from point A to point B. Why not stop at the casino and Ardmore and Pauls Valley?

    OK Denton, that can make sense because it's where the 35's go together and it's the last big stop on the north side of town. But really the best way to get ridership here is to make it as much of an "express" as possible and minimize all these stops. The overwhelming majority of the traffic is from the main end stops. Anyone that gets on in Ardmore can drive to Ft Worth faster than the train is going to get them there.
    Local traffic still accounts for a decent portion of ridership - and Ardmore aside, these stops don't really account for any materially significant delay in travel time. There's only 5 intermediate stops currently. Ardmore is typically scheduled for a 5-10min dwell time for "station work", but all other intermediate stops are just long enough for passengers to embark/disembark. I looked at the numbers on this a while back in the main Oklahoma Passenger Rail Updates(non-HSR) thread.

    Actually, Pete/Martin, could we maybe merge this thread with the main passenger rail updates thread? These are both basically the same topic.

  21. Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by baralheia View Post
    Local traffic still accounts for a decent portion of ridership - and Ardmore aside, these stops don't really account for any materially significant delay in travel time. There's only 5 intermediate stops currently. Ardmore is typically scheduled for a 5-10min dwell time for "station work", but all other intermediate stops are just long enough for passengers to embark/disembark. I looked at the numbers on this a while back in the main Oklahoma Passenger Rail Updates(non-HSR) thread.

    Actually, Pete/Martin, could we maybe merge this thread with the main passenger rail updates thread? These are both basically the same topic.
    You just made my argument for me.

    I can drive this in 3 hours. With those stops, you just added an hour to the train ride, thus eliminating any possibility of the train beating my car. That's exactly what i'm saying can't happen, or it will never be worth it's cost.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by bombermwc View Post
    You just made my argument for me.

    I can drive this in 3 hours. With those stops, you just added an hour to the train ride, thus eliminating any possibility of the train beating my car. That's exactly what i'm saying can't happen, or it will never be worth it's cost.
    Nope, I didn't. Taking the train does not need to be faster than driving your car for the service to be competitive. That said, it also shouldn't take an inordinate amount of time, either, and Amtrak's timetable lists the trip as taking just shy of 4 hours to downtown Ft Worth. That's how much time I budget for every time I drive down there anyway - and that combined with the amenities of being able to relax, work, and eat on board while someone else does the driving for you is what makes it competitive. Eliminating these intermediate stops that account for something like 20% of annual ridership (if I'm recalling correctly) would NOT improve the train and would only shave off maybe 20 minutes of travel time, at most. What holds the service back is the single round trip a day with less convenient departure and arrival times - especially for those who may want to use the train to come up here from DFW. Additional round trip frequencies will do much to help in this regard.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by baralheia View Post
    Nope, I didn't. Taking the train does not need to be faster than driving your car for the service to be competitive. That said, it also shouldn't take an inordinate amount of time, either, and Amtrak's timetable lists the trip as taking just shy of 4 hours to downtown Ft Worth. That's how much time I budget for every time I drive down there anyway - and that combined with the amenities of being able to relax, work, and eat on board while someone else does the driving for you is what makes it competitive. Eliminating these intermediate stops that account for something like 20% of annual ridership (if I'm recalling correctly) would NOT improve the train and would only shave off maybe 20 minutes of travel time, at most. What holds the service back is the single round trip a day with less convenient departure and arrival times - especially for those who may want to use the train to come up here from DFW. Additional round trip frequencies will do much to help in this regard.
    I was about to reply with this, just doubling the frequency would make better for my family. Maybe the ability to take the morning train and spend a couple of hours in D-FW then taking the evening train back would mean more trips from us.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Quote Originally Posted by PaddyShack View Post
    I was about to reply with this, just doubling the frequency would make better for my family. Maybe the ability to take the morning train and spend a couple of hours in D-FW then taking the evening train back would mean more trips from us.
    To be fair, you can already do exactly that from OKC - on it's current schedule, Amtrak's Heartland Flyer departs Santa Fe Station (OKC) at 8:25 am and arrives at Fort Worth Central Station (FTW) by 12:25 pm. The return trip departs FTW at 5:25 pm and arrives back in OKC by 9:25 pm. This gives you about five hours in the afternoon to explore and do stuff in Fort Worth before the return trip to OKC. If you want to venture beyond Fort Worth, two commuter rail services have hourly departures from the same station - the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) toward Dallas or the TEXRail toward Grapevine/DFW Airport. Both commuter services currently have departures within 20 minutes of arriving at FTW, but the TRE transfer is pretty tight (scheduled for 12:32 pm) so be prepared to move quickly if going that route - or wait for the 1:32 pm departure (especially if the Heartland Flyer encounters any delays). Ticketing for both TRE and TEXRail is done by kiosks on the station platform or via the GoPass mobile app. Whether purchased from a kiosk or the GoPass app, the "Regional" fare costs $12 per person (as of the time of writing) and will get you full, unlimited access to all public transit services across the DFW metro on the day of purchase; this fare is required to go all the way to Dallas from FTW. If you're not going that far, cheaper "local" fares are available, both in single-ride and multi-ride options (for more info, see https://ridetrinitymetro.org/tickets/)

    Increased frequencies on the Heartland Flyer will eventually allow travelers from DFW to do the same sort of day trip here.

    For longer journeys via rail, you can also transfer to Amtrak's Texas Eagle in FTW; the westbound train (train 21/421) towards Austin, San Antonio, and LA departs FTW at 2:10pm, and the eastbound train (train 22/422) towards Dallas, Little Rock, St Louis, and Chicago departs FTW at 2:20pm.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Oklahoma Amtrak Expac Updates

    Most of the stops take 2-3 minutes. They’re very quick. They do a 5 minute stop in Ardmore. All the stops are probably 15 minutes total. A stop in Sanger wouldn’t make hardly any difference.

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