Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Friday, July 27, 2007

8 habits of highly successful commuter rail lines

This page discusses what it takes for a rail line to be a successful commuter line. They are:
  1. The ideal commuter rail line improves on current transit options
  2. The ideal commuter rail line makes use of unused rail capacity in a corridor where highway capacity is scarce
  3. The ideal commuter rail line serves more than commuters
  4. The ideal commuter rail line has a city at each end
  5. The ideal commuter rail line offers good connections to multiple employment centers
  6. The ideal commuter rail line serves long trips
  7. The ideal commuter rail line connects to local transit
  8. The ideal commuter rail line has stations you can walk (or bike) to
It's an interesting read, I agree with its points and it basically describes the NEC rail line. The author is from the Houston area which seems to have no commuter rail service.

European "citizen journalism" article on Amtrak

An article discussing Amtrak on a European site named "AgoraVox" discusses dropping long distance Amtrak service. AgoraVox describes itself as a European initiatives for a totally free of charge "citizen journalism". I thought it would be cool to link to a non US perspective on Amtrak. The article is by 'Nbleven' whose profile lists him as living in Washington DC, so I'm not sure how much of a non-US perspective this is.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Direct Philly to NYC Acela Train Goes Wrong Way for Philly-NYC Commuters!

This month Amtrak introduced a new Acela service offering round trip direct service from Philadelphia to New York City. I mentioned this new service a couple months ago in my blog post here. The train numbers for each leg are 2105 in the morning and 2120 in the early evening.

The problem is 2105 goes from NYC-PHI in the AM and 2120 PHI-NYC in the PM. This is the wrong direction for Philadelphia to New York commuters.

Train number 2105 leaves New York Penn Station at 6:50 AM and arrives at 30th Street Station at 7:55. The other half of the leg, train number 2120 leaves 30th Street Station at 5:23 PM and arrive in Penn Station at 6:30 PM.

These are stellar times, just over one hour between NYC and Philly is great. My guess is these trains come in under 60 minutes consistently provided normal congestion on the NEC tracks.

So why no similar service from PHI-NYC in the AM and NYC-PHI in the PM? Haven't found info on this yet but I'll keep looking. My guess is that since they just rolled this service out Amtrak is being cautious. Plus I'm further guessing their market research told them that the NYC-PHI in the AM and PHI-NYC in the PM has more potential customers.

If this service is successful I would expect the same service to be added for Philly but likely not until 2008. So though this is a good new addition by Amtrak, there's no real tangible benefit for the Phi-NYC Amtrak commuter at this time.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Northeast corridor can get a little faster, but not much

Significant speed improvements along the NEC are very unlikely it seems. So the travel durations we have now between major cities along the NEC are the way it will be for the forseeable future.

The article Amtrak: Northeast corridor can get a little faster, but not much notes it is impossible for trains along the NEC to maintain speeds of 125 to 150 mph with current infrastructure. This is due to the fact that Amtrak shares the NEC with numerous commuter lines and some freight carriers. 125 to 150 mph speeds, which could cut the trip from Washington to New York down to about an hour and a half , would require a dedicated line.

A dedicated line for high speed travel along the NEC would be nice. However travel times between Philadelphia and NYC is OK as it is now I feel so increasing train speed along the NEC, though good, likley would not benefit the Phi-NYC commuter much at all. Plus the new direct service from Philly to NYC will be a nice boost to the Philly-NYC commuting options, and this train will make total trip time even lower without an expensive track upgrade.

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