These example pages ignore FRA carbody strength regulations against passenger rail, because there is no feasible option for Rogue Valley rail transit within these requirements.
Rogue River Rail Transit
Example 1: Ashland - Central Point
The first timetable was written as an example for local traffic, while long distance trains are still absent. Assumed is the following situation:
- The track has been rebuilt, is properly superelevated between Talent and Ashland, and maintained to class 3 (60 mph).
- Where necessary, grade crossings have been upgraded to 60 mph.
- The trains accelerate to 60 mph within one minute.
- Typical station stop time: 10 - 20 seconds. (For comparison: BART: 20 seconds.)
In order to reach this situation on Ashland - Central Point, the author would call an infrastructure investment of 30 million $ "normal" – stations with level boarding included.
|Ashland - Central Point|
|Line length||16.6 miles
|Intermediate stations (assumption)||6
|Average stop distance||3.3 miles
|Line speed assumption||60 mph
|Travel time||24 minutes
|Average speed||41.5 mph
If the train reaches the line speed of 60 mph within one minute after door closure, it will use about 0.7 miles for acceleration. Deceleration needs another 0.3 mile. Theoretically, the line speed of 60 mph could be used for 2.3 miles. Practically, the average stop distance between Talent and Central Point is only 2 miles, meaning 1 mile for acceleration and deceleration plus 1 mile at line speed. Between Talent and Ashland, tight curves require a slowdown on a distance of 1.3 miles.
- BART express trains Fremont - San Francisco operate with a stop distance of 3.2 miles, and achieve an average speed of 47 mph on that route.
- The "NBE nordbahn" DMU operation described on page 44 has a stop distance of 3.3 miles, and achieves an average speed of 49 mph.
- Both operations have a tiny advantage by top speed, and aren't handicapped by the curvature south of Talent.
Conclusion: An average speed of 41.5 mph is perfectly reasonable in comparison to established services.
A standard solution for a small-scale service with high requirements for acceleration is Stadler's "Regioshuttle", a DMU with about 70 seats. It sells for 1.5 - 2 million € in Europe, depending on order size and equipment details. In September 2004, 341 units had been delivered to 18 railroad operators. A railroad in the USA might pay double the price in a small-scale project: 50-60% to the manufacturer, plus a major amount to a consultant, who works out the project specifications. Since Washington does not provide any US standard for using lighter weight vehicles, a one-of-a-kind specification is established every time.
The "Südthüringenbahn" operates twohourly traffic on a network of branch lines to remote locations in the forests of Thuringia. Stadler's "Regioshuttle" is the standard choice of private or county-owned shortlines for such task.
Basically, the "Regioshuttle" is a modern version of Budd's RDC, but adapted to a shorter stop distance: 46 tons instead of 59 tons, 690 hp instead of 550 hp, all-axle drive for acceleration right from the start. With all seats occupied, it reaches 25 mph after 14 seconds, 50 mph after 37 s, and 75 mph after 92 s. Dynamics and disc brakes are automatically blended, with preference for the dynamics, similar to transit EMUs like BART. A pair of track brakes provides additional safety on slippery rails. Floor height is about 2 feet, though a few units have been delivered with a different value. Two wide doors with big vestibules provide the dwell time of rapid transit.
The motors are bus motors, the gears are bus gears, the dynamic brakes are bus retarders, and a major amount of interior parts are standard transit bus equipment. Cost efficient maintenance of DMUs and buses in a single workshop is one of the reasons, why these units have been successful in lower density environments.
For operating off peak services on a lightly traveled line, the incremental costs for an additional train run may not be much higher than for a bus. When interviewed by the author, Regioshuttle operators answered with real-world fuel consumption figures ranging from 6 mpg to 3 mpg – 6 mpg for a rural operation on flat terrain at rather low speed, 3 mpg for a fast operation in mountaineous terrain with steep grades. The Rogue Valley is an easy terrain with ruling grades from 0 to 1%, but the suggested timetable is a fast one. The author expects 4 mpg for normal operation, 5 mpg for flagstop operation.
One day of operation within the following example timetable generates 598 train miles. This needs 19 crew hours (18 hours of train operation plus preparation work), one DMU unit (perhaps a second one coupled for rush hour), and 140 - 150 gallons of diesel.