Thursday, August 09, 2007

How do we squeeze more frequencies from existing crews and trainsets?

One of the things we're trying to figure out is how we can use the existing crews and equipment to squeeze more frequencies and trips into the existing schedule.

Basically, the faster the average speed of the trip (and the quicker a crew can make a trip), the more time we have in a crew's regular 8-hour day to squeeze in another trip.

So, shaving off 5 or 10 minutes from a schedule every 100 miles really does start to add up.

It could mean the difference between 2 trips a day and 4 trips a day on a particular corridor.

On the Chicago to St. Louis corridor, for example, it takes 5 and a half hours to make the trip one way.

Not so great.

If we can get that trip down to 4 hours (which is very doable), then a round-trip takes 8 hours -- and one crew can make a round-trip on the same day.

Right now, as I understand it, one crew takes the train down to St. Louis and then gets in a hotel and spends the night. The next day, they take the train back north to Chicago.

How inefficient!

It would make so much more sense to get a round-trip in one crew day. I'm sure the crew would like that as well (spend the night with their families instead of by themselves).

Of course, it takes some capital investments in trackwork to get average speeds up and a real partnership with the host railroads that own the tracks and dispatch the trains, but those are solvable problems.

Once we know that we can get more frequencies with existing crews and existing trainsets for about the same cost, then we have a goal to achieve.

Plus, if we get a 300 mile trip done in 4 hours like Chicago to St. Louis, that's premium service that can command higher fares. That's faster than driving and from downtown to downtown, faster than flying (counting travel time to the airports).

We should develop an ask on every route in the nation on how to improve travel times and then how to get more frequencies on every route.


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