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 2: Ashland - Grants Pass

The "Ashland – Central Point" example on the last page is a standard solution. With FRA compliant trains, a reliable implementation is out of reach, but within common standards of modern passenger railroad operation, it is routine work.

This page here is different: It shows an example for Ashland – Grants Pass traffic, which would be state of the art by anybody's standard, and needs attention to every detail under any kind of regulation.

Yellow DMU approaches through a forest.
The Bombardier "Itino" is the fastest accelerating lowfloor DMU. Here an Y31 unit of Jönköpings Länstrafik AB, Sweden.

"Ashland – Grants Pass" is more than double as long as "Ashland – Central Point". Nonetheless, desired result is "two trains, two employees, hourly traffic", despite the additional distance. As an additional delay to some of the trains, meeting freight trains can't be avoided on the longer route. Central Oregon & Pacific has its center of operations in Medford, trains pull out north and south. If Ashland – Central Point is operated hourly, freights can be dispatched into the opposite direction. But for the longer route, there must be enough schedule padding for another siding or station meet.

Settlement between Central Point and Grants Pass favours a longer stop distance in that part of the route, which helps to save time. But as well, the train sets need considerably higher performance, and need to operate at rather high cant deficiency.

1341 hp, 76 tons, 1.8 feet boarding height – the Y31 of Jönköpings Länstrafik AB.

Needing three trains for hourly traffic would be a costly failure. It does not only require another train and another crew, but also adds considerable infrastructure costs. Passing more trains requires more switches, and switches are some of the most expensive elements of railroad infrastructure. If a faster DMU is more expensive than the example on the last page, it is still a bargain in comparison to the consequences of too slow an operation. Keeping this situation in mind, the assumptions for calculating the timetable are these:

The fastest lowfloor DMU in current (April 2005) production is the Bombardier Itino. This is an articulated trainset with two parts, total weight 76 tons, each part motorized with 671 hp. Motor power isn't power at the wheel, though. Air condition and auxiliaries have their own requirements. Since the full motor power can't be used anyway, Bombardier hasn't selected a hydraulic transmission for all the motor power, but a smaller gearbox, the Voith T 212 bre. Consequence is, that with any motor, the transmittable power won't exceed 2 x 617 hp. (The first Itino trains have had a lower limit, but the transmission was improved later.)

White and red articulated DMU passes a level crossing.
An Y31 of "Tåg i Bergslagen", Sweden. The short version of the Itino features 100 seats, accessible restroom, and bicycle/stroller space.

Currently delivered Itino units reach their top speed of 87 mph in 112 seconds. This is a very good value for a DMU, but a questionable result for the given Rogue Valley task:

Ashland - Grants Pass
Line length 44.8 miles
Intermediate stations (assumption) 10
Average stop distance 4.1 miles
Line speed assumption 90 mph
Travel time 53 minutes
Average speed 51 mph

If the fastest offers out of serial production miss the goal by two or three minutes, these minutes are best won by minor curve easing work. Faster DMUs can be ordered, but after some calculations and phone calls, they don't appear to be the most cost-effective option in this case. Nonetheless, possibilities for buying faster DMUs rather close to serial production are collected on a separate annotation page.

White and green DMU on singletrack.
The Itino prototype, owned by Erfurter Industriebahn GmbH in Germany, was rebuilt for testing an improved transmission, which became the current production standard.

While this page has been based on Bombardier's "Itino", Alstom could very easily rearrange its "Minuetto" DMU, currently delivered to Italy, into a train with the same size and the same performance. The Itino is currently delivered to the "Odenwald-Bahn" project in Germany, 22 units for € 3.18 million each. So there are at least two products available, for the following timetable:



Grants Pass 05:58 05:04 06:58 06:04 07:58 07:04 hourly 08:58 08:04 09:58 09:04 10:58 10:04 11:58 11:04
Rogue River F 06:48 F 07:48 07:13 hourly 08:48 08:13 F F F F F F
Gold Hill F F 06:40 F 07:40 07:21 hourly 08:40 08:21 F F F F F F
Highway Xing @ wye 05:31 05:31 06:31 06:31 07:31 07:31 hourly 08:31 08:31 09:31 09:31 10:31 10:31 11:31 11:31
Central Point 05:27 05:35 06:27 06:35 07:27 07:35 hourly 08:27 08:35 09:27 09:35 10:27 10:35 11:27 11:35
Medford 05:23 05:39 06:23 06:39 07:23 07:39 hourly 08:23 08:39 09:23 09:39 10:23 10:39 11:23 11:39
Medford 05:22 05:40 06:22 06:40 07:22 07:40 hourly 08:22 08:40 09:22 09:40 10:22 10:40 11:22 11:40
Kane¹ F F F 06:42 07:20 07:42 hourly 08:20 08:42 F F F F F F
Voorhies¹ F F F 06:44 07:18 07:44 hourly 08:18 08:44 F F F F F F
Phoenix F F F 06:46 07:15 07:46 hourly 08:15 08:46 F F F F F F
Talent F F F 06:49 07:12 07:49 hourly 08:12 08:49 F F F F F F
Ashland outskirts F F F 06:55 07:07 07:55 hourly 08:07 08:55 F F F F F F
Ashland 05:05 05:57 06:05 06:57 07:05 07:57 hourly 08:05 08:57 09:05 09:57 10:05 10:57 11:05 11:57
¹ Historical locations have been used for calculation. Today's planning will have to look at the current settlement structure.
² F = Flagstop

The track has two major slowdowns with really tight curves. Between Ashland and Talent, it's a section of 1.3 miles. A similar problem is found near Gold Ray Dam. And finally, there are several curves between Rogue River and Grants Pass, which either require several acceleration and braking cycles, or a restriction to less than 60 mph. The radius of these curves typically isn't caused by major obstacles, but by lack of money in the 1880s. The "Oregon & California" ran out of money after reaching Ashland in 1884, and didn't have any option but the cheapest one in the months before.

Topo map shows track in a river valley.
Curves between Grants Pass and Rogue River, plus the speed restrictions caused by them. The basis for calculation: 6 inches of superelevation, 5 inches of cant deficiency.

With the existing track and the given stop distance, the top speed of 90 mph can be used north of Central Point and west of Gold Hill. Curve easing could create a third 90 mph section east of Grants Pass. If 6 inches of superelevation and 5 inches of cant deficiency are considered the maximum values, the minimum curve radius for 90 mph operation is 2906 feet. The suggestion is, to do just enough of such work, until the 53 minutes goal can be met reliably. For getting there, train performance and necessary curve easing have to be balanced in a simulation program. The author expects, that the necessary improvements will be minor ones.

Level boarding

The Itino trains, which are suggested for this traffic, allow level boarding at 1.8 feet platform height. This kind of platform is compatible with oversize freight, and therefore, can be used for freight track – technically. Legally, regulations in the state of Oregon outrule level boarding solutions. This problem is discussed on a separate page about platforms and station safety concepts. Without a waiver, gantlet track has to be used, which adds about 200 000 $ to each platform, almost doubling the costs of stations. The switches add considerable maintenance costs.

Track with 4 parallel rails and a switch arrangement.
This example of a gantlet track costs 150 000 – 200 000 € for one platform.

Doubling the costs of passenger stations, which don't handle any freight, wasn't the original intention behind the regulations, so a waiver might be obtainable. If this isn't possible, the gantlets are still cheaper than operating a third train for hourly service.

Operation at higher cant deficiency

If regulations in central Europe allow 90 mph for a curve, the USA value is 78 mph – same track, same train. The railroad can ask the FRA for a waiver, which allows a speedup to 82 mph. And finally, there is the superspecial waiver for highspeed train operators, which allows about 86 mph:

A track owner or a railroad operating above Class 5 speeds, may request approval from the Federal Railroad Administrator to operate specified equipment at a level of cant deficiency greater than four inches in accordance with §213.329(c) and (d) on curves in Class 1 through 5 track which are contiguous to the high speed track ...

For those not believing in good vibrations, it isn't trivial to understand, how high-speed track improves the safety of higher curve speed in the neighbourhood. The author was told, that according to the FRA, the equipment in high-speed corridors is designed to handle higher cant deficiency better than that of lower speed equipment. Such reasoning is quite astonishing, if originating at an administration, which is supposed to set standards and test conformity.

In the context of Ashland - Grants Pass service, the rule won't do any harm. It should be easy, to create some hundred yards of 110 mph high-speed track in a section located some miles north of Central Point, making the Rogue Valley a high-speed corridor and fulfilling the FRA requirement. On straight track without level crossings (or without important level crossings), this is almost for free. Design speed of the Itino trains is 99 mph, so it might even save a few seconds.

Unit conversion for text on this page.
1341 hp 1000 kW  
76 tons 69000 kg  
1.8 feet 55 cm  
90 mph 145 km/h  
5 inches 127 mm  
60 mph 97 km/h  
671 hp 500 kW  
617 hp 460 kW  
87 mph 140 km/h  
44.8 miles 72.1 km  
4.1 miles 6.6 km  
51 mph 82 km/h  
536 hp 400 kW  
1.3 miles 2.1 km  
6 inches 152 mm  
5 inches 127 mm  
60 mph 97 km/h  
671 hp 500 kW  
617 hp 460 kW  
87 mph 140 km/h  
44.8 miles 72.1 km  
4.1 miles 6.6 km  
51 mph 82 km/h  
1.3 miles 2.1 km  
2906 feet 886 m 1 degrees 58 minutes of curvature
78 mph 126 km/h  
82 mph 132 km/h  
86 mph 138 km/h  
4 inches 102 mm  
110 mph 177 km/h  
99 mph 160 km/h  

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Last modified: 2005-05-24