Future Fests as of Spring 2010, for real
Future Fests as of Spring 2010, for real
Apr 2 2010, 08:08 PM
Group: Sr. Admin
Joined: 26-June 03
From: Howell, NJ
Member No.: 2
Now that April 1st is past, it's time to talk in all seriousness about what the future holds.
Next event continues to be the Pacific Northwest RailFest (PNW) 2010 Lite in July of this year, along with its associated long distance Amtrak trips. We will feature Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver (BC).
For next summer, I believe we will be ready to avoid international border crossings and the Pacific Coast, and instead stay in the eastern half of the country. The Southeast RailFest (SERF) 2011 will include riding rail transit in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Memphis, a rehash of our southbound Crescent experience from 2009, and the entire City of New Orleans (the train AND the city!) as well.
Staying with the longer summer trips, on the list we have a Midwest RailFest, during which we would try to complete what we didn't back in 2003 in Chicago, and there would also be a side trip on the Empire Builder to Minneapolis/St. Paul. The latter has the new Northstar commuter rail line, the established Hiawatha Corridor LRT of Metro Transit, and potentially the Central Corridor which would connect the two Twin Cities. There is talk that Amtrak may move from Midway Station to the St. Paul Union Depot by 2012, which would make the Central Corridor LRT even more important to us. So this event most likely will take place after the light rail opens in 2014.
Next, we have the Texas RailFest. This trip would have many different stops along the Texas Eagle route (plus the Thruway bus between Longview & Houston, and a short portion of the Sunset Limited that we rode in 2009). I recently added another day to this Fest in order to experience the Heartland Flyer, with an overnight stay in Oklahoma City. Transit properties visited would be Houston's HCMTA (existing light rail and potential new routes), Austin's Cap Metro diesel commuter line that recently opened, Little Rock's RiverRail streetcars (very much like Tampa's TECO), and re-visits to both Dallas and St. Louis to ride portions of their LRT systems that didn't exist when we were there in 2005. Dallas DART's Green and Orange Lines, as well as an extension to the Blue Line, are opening in piecemeal fashion between last year and the end of 2013 (when the Orange Line will reach DFW International Airport). So my thought here is that this would be ideal for 2014. Hopefully by then, there will be more to ride in Houston than just the existing Red Line.
Rockies RailFest was originally scheduled for next year, but in reading of all the projects underway in both host cities (Salt Lake City & Denver), I decided to put it on the back burner for a few years until there is more for us to ride. Denver has the West Line LRT under construction, and its Gold Line, which will be an electrified commuter rail line, would be unique for this part of the country. In Salt Lake City, one new LRT line is under construction and others may go to that phase soon. In addition, the existing FrontRunner North Line will be extended as FrontRunner South to the cities of Orem and Provo. All of the SLC stuff should be open by sometime in 2015.
I recently added to the mix a Southwest RailFest. This would allow us to ride the Valley Metro LRT in Phoenix, as well as RailRunner commuter rail in New Mexico. The Southwest Chief would be our primary transportation to the area, but an overnight stay in Flagstaff and a Thruway bus ride between Flagstaff and Phoenix would be necessary. This, too needs to be done years down the road, because we have to await the opening of the Phoenix AirTrain people mover, which will open in segments in 2013 and 2020 (!!).
Now let's look at the shorter Fests, those that would last a few days, such as the ones we have had mostly in the New York City area in January. First let me say that life has changed, and going forth the dates and duration will not bound by school schedules since I'll have a high school graduate here soon in a couple of months. So we're don't necessarily have to meet on the third weekend of January, nor do we have to remain in the NYC area.
Really the only thing left to ace in the NYC Metro area would be 3 branches of the Long Island Railroad, plus the LIC branch via Hunterspoint Avenue, and the Central Branch between Bethpage and Babylon. That is something I would prefer to do in the summer months when we have the benefit of late daylight. One can ride one train from LIC to Babylon that would accomplish two of those goals on a weeknight, and then one Saturday would suffice to ride the three branches (Oyster Bay, West Hempstead, Long Beach). So this could potentially be just a Friday night and all day Saturday 2-day event and then we're done. The question for discussion is, would you wish do it this year, say in August, about 4-5 weeks after we get back from the big PNW trip? Given the fact that West Hempstead may be cut entirely on weekends, it may be wise to get this overwith soon. But it's understood that finances especially following the PNW trip might be a negative issue.
Other smaller trips would be trips to Pittsburgh, North Carolina (Amtrak Piedmont, and LYNX & heritage streetcars in Charlotte), a return to Montreal to take in some new lines, and finally, a Virginia trip. The latter would include the Fredericksburg Line of VRE (in 2005 we only did Manassas), as well as the new LRT in Norfolk once it opens, so this cannot be before May 2011.
The trips in the above paragraph would be between 3 and 4 days in duration if you are coming from cities in the Northeast.
As usual, anything can change in time, but for now these are the thoughts about the next few years.
OTOL Board Leader
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