I have written about AMTRAK a few times, and made predictions based on where I think AMTRAK should expand based on potential demand for rail service around the United States before.
So when AMTRAK announced that they want to use part of President Biden’s stimulus to expand AMTRAK I was of course excited to see how my predictions lined up with their planned expansions.
Honestly, I did a pretty good job.
The way I calculated demand was pretty simple. I expect that a route will have demand if cities are both relatively close together and larger. These two factors together add up to make a higher demand for a train service.
To estimate the relative demand of transportation between two cities I multiply the populations of both cities together and then divide by distance. This is the potential combinations of people meeting each other over distance.
I then filtered for only focusing on metropolitan areas which have over 100,000 people, because you need to have enough people to use the train in order to justify the investment, I’m looking for at least a distance of 100 KM to justify Federal AMTRAK spending, and I also do not count suburbs.
So how do I do?
Here are my predictions:
- New York – Allentown ✔
- New York – Scranton ✔
- New York – Worcester
- New York – New Bedford
- New York – York (close to two existing stations)
- Chicago – Rockford ✔
- Los Angeles – Bakersfield (California HSR) ✔
- Houston – Bryan/College Station ✔
- Chicago – Madison ✔
- Chicago – Peoria
- Los Angeles – Visalia (California HSR) ✔
- Los Angeles – Las Vegas ✔
- Chicago – Rock Island/Moline/Davenport ✔
- Los Angeles – Fresno (California HSR) ✔
- Cleveland – Detroit ✔
- Chicago – Fort Wayne
- Philadelphia – York (close to two existing stations)
- Philadelphia – Scranton
Of the top 20 predictions which do not currently have train service I have, 13 of them are on either AMTRAK’s expansion plan or part of California HSR. New York to Worcester is probably part of AMTRAK’s expansion as part of a Boston-Springfield-New York line, and I doubt New Bedford is going to get a direct line to New York any time soon. Peoria is halfway between two existing train lines which run through smaller cities, Fort Wayne is close to a train line in Waterloo, leaving the Scranton-Philadelphia as the only city on my list with a high probability of needing more service which does not currently exist.
Not a bad job in my opinion.
View my predictions at gitlab.