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2015 Amtrak Subway Map – Revised Draft

2015 Amtrak Subway Map Revised Draft - Sml

Based on feedback from the first draft of this new version of my Amtrak as subway map, I’ve gone and made a few edits, additions and corrections.

The major revision is a reworking of the main section of the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington to make things a little clearer. I’m still using overlapping “multiplied route colour” lines to indicate identical service patterns, but I’ve broken the routes down into smaller, thematically linked groups: the three “local” Empire Corridor routes (the Empire Service, Adirondack and Ethan Allen Express); the three “inland” routes (the Cardinal, Carolinian and Crescent); and the three Atlantic Coast/Florida routes (the Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star). These groupings are reflected in the ordering of the route designation disks at New York Penn Station, and the terminus dot for each group displays all three route colours.

With the help of readers, I’ve located and added another three stations: the North Carolina State Fair (which, like the New York State Fair station, only operates for the dates of the fair each year); Lexington, North Carolina (which is only open for one day each year — for the annual Barbecue Festival held in October); and Hillsborough, North Carolina, which is slated to open sometime in 2015. I also heard tell of a Charlotte Airport extension of Carolinian and Piedmont services, but can’t seem to find a solid construction date for it, so it remains off the map for the time being.

The Hoosier State is back on the map, which did require a change in colour for the City of New Orleans, as otherwise the red California Zephyr line would have been directly above the similarly-red City of New Orleans line, making it look as if one long route extended through Chicago. I appropriated the Palmetto’s orange line colour for this, and made the Palmetto a new silver-grey colour to tie in with the two other routes in its thematic group (the “Silver Service” trains).

On this version, I’ve also included the now long-suspended section of the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and Jacksonville, just so you can see how it fits neatly into the structure of the map. Restoration of this service by Amtrak is extremely unlikely, and I would not include this segment on any final version of this map.

As always, comments are most welcome! Almost there, I think!


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  2. tobias köhler

    Thank you, that is much clearer than any other Amtrak map I have seen.
    But I wonder if frequencies could be coded into the map: Use a dashed line for less than one train per day, a thin line for one daily train and a thicker line for several trains using the same route.

  3. David R

    I know this is now MONTHs old, but the most jarring part of this for me is the NE angle at Alexandria. It seems to me that the NE line could be moved in next to your “Silver” trio, which allows it to turn parallel to it towards Alexandria. Next out would be VT, which would have to cross NE at New Haven but if AE is the outer one, than the exiting NE/AE cross is eliminated so its no difference there. It also allows the S and NE line to be next to each other to Springfield, rather than one of each side of the VT line which continues north. I am sure that it is visually nice to have the line with each stop at the edge, but the bend at Alexandria is really the only one of that kind on the map.

    I am also seeing some discrepancies in where you choose to use the overlay. For instance, the final 2 or 3 western stops on each EB spur and SW overlay others, but the Boston end of LS, seems to be exactly the same as the Portland end of EB but treated differently, coming in as a third line. For these, I think that its not worth making the overlay for 2-3 stations.

    But, ML has an identical alignment as ES all the way from New York City util Niagara Falls, but is its own line the entire way. You could cut out an entire line out of New York City by adding that to the ES/AD/EA overlay. If it were only 2 lines I may not suggest it, but it seems odd that its not there since you already are using the overlay next to it.

    In short, while i think the overlay works really well on the Northeast Corridor and the small connections like MR in St Louis, PA in Pittsburgh, or HF in Fort Worth, I think that when its a 2-3 station alignment like you have out west with SW and EB, its not worth doing, since then it opens up all sorts of other places where you could (including odd things like the southern end of the SS and SM lines which could re-combine, but doesn’t make sense to).

  4. I’m loving how the Northeast Corridor looks in this version – it’s much easier to understand! However, that oddly angled portion of the Regional is kind of jarring. Maybe move it to the inside of the Acela and Vermonter? Also, I noticed that two stopping dots are missing on the Lincoln service – specifically in Dwight and Springfield.

    I still have a few issues with the overlay effect. For instance, in St. Louis, as Andrew pointed out, the overlay implies that the Missouri River Runner somehow continues on to Los Angeles along the Southwest Chief’s stopping pattern. This overlay makes sense for a case such as the Adirondack on the Empire Corridor, where one route operates effectively as another for a considerable distance, but this does not work if one route terminates as the other continues. Perhaps the best example of this is the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight in Portland. Very few people will use Amtrak to get from Vancouver to Portland; bus and light rail pose much more reasonable options. As such, the two trains represent very different service patterns, and the overlay implies that they are somehow related. It also is unclear that the Empire Builder does not continue, since the overlaid portion is almost the same color as the Coast Starlight.

    One more thing about the idea of adding small overlays as described above is that it’s not done everywhere – the Lake Shore Limited could overlay with the Acela at Boston; the San Joaquin could overlay with the California Zephyr around Emeryville/Richmond; the Capitol Limited could overlay with the brown services at Washington. Also, maybe corridor routes such as the Hoosier State could be overlaid on the long-distance routes they follow?

    I was also wondering if it might be a good idea to add a symbol for a station that is sometimes skipped – as with many stations on the Northeast Corridor. This would not only make it easier to understand, it would also allow the overlay of, for example, the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited, which ARE effectively the same service pattern between Chicago and Cleveland. This missing overlay is somewhat jarring, as is the case with the Wolverine and Blue Water – which are even shown on the same timetable! The Wolverine will often skip those two stops as well, so why should it be shown as a separate line?

    Overall, I’m very impressed with this map and the effort it must have taken. I love this project – please continue to develop it; this is becoming one of my favorite maps!

  5. Jeffrey Bridgman

    I wonder if the lines south of Alexandria would look better if NE service maintained its 45 degree angle through the Alexandria station marker before crossing the services headed south horizontally (perpendicular). The random angle just doesn’t quite feel right to me. Good stuff!

    • You managed to say it RIGHT before I hit send on my comment above – I completely agree. I think the best way to pull it off would be to move the Acela and Vermonter outside the Regional…it may cause problems around New Haven, though. Hmm…

      • Whoops, it looks like it was a few weeks before rather than a few seconds before. I must have just not seen it. Hmm…

  6. Andrew W

    I don’t quite see when overlapping has been retained and when lines have been separated anymore. In a few places, it seems like this could generate confusion. I think overlapping lines for a few stops near terminals should be used to indicate timed transfers, so the Pittsburgh overlap should only remain if the Pennsylvanian is timed to connect well with the Capitol Limited, for instance. (I don’t believe it is, so I would advocate separating the two lines at the Pittsburgh station.) I would separate the Empire Builder at Seattle (overlapping termination dots with the Empire Builder) and Portland (adding a third line). Also, in LA, I would separate the Southwest Chief from the Pacific Surfliner, moving the Southwest Chief to the same line as the Coast Starlight and sharing a terminal dot. This might look nicer if the whole Pacific Surfliner were realigned to the left of the Coast Starlight, especially as the stations are labelled on the left and the Pacific Surfliner is the local. Again, in Saint Louis, I think that the Missouri River Runner (which is not timed to connect with the Texas Eagle, but to with the Lincoln Service, if I remember correctly) should be on the same line in the terminal as the Lincoln Service, and the Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle should possibly switch positions (and colors, unless the Illinois Zephyr is changed) between Chicago and Saint Louis. In Fort Worth, I think the lines should be as they are only if the Heartland Flyer is timed to connect so that the southbound Flyer connects to a northbound Eagle. If the timings are reversed from that in operation, then Fort Worth should be slid down to the vertical part of the Eagle so that the Flyer overlaps in that direction, visually suggesting the transfer. I would separate the dots if the two lines are not timed to connect.

    I am also curious if you intend to add the Roanoke extension of the Lynchburg northeast corridor service.

    I continue to thoroughly enjoy your map.

    Hm, I left comments on the last one using Disqus, but that doesn’t seem to be an option here.

    • Andrew, I’m intrigued by your comments, mainly because of your insistence that terminus dots and their position should imply timed connecting services. This was certainly not my intention, and it’s extremely rare for any subway/metro/transit map to convey this type of information graphically. Off the top of my head, I can only think of the Hong Kong MTR map, which indicates timed cross-platform transfers with a complex system of icons. This type of detail is normally left to timetables.

      That said, where would one draw the line with what constitutes a “connection” with Amtrak? The Pennsylvanian has a four hour gap westbound and a two-and-a-half hour gap eastbound with the Capitol Limited, yet is clearly presented as being a “connecting service at Pittsburgh” in Amtrak literature.

      Amtrak’s website says of the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited coupling/uncoupling at San Antonio: “Passengers traveling on trains 421 and 422 to and from points between Chicago and Los Angeles will experience an overnight layover in San Antonio, TX, ranging from 7 to 9.5 hours in order to accommodate train coupling operations. ” Yet this train trip is always shown as being as a seamless “connecting” service. If nine-and-a-half hours constitutes a connecting service in Amtrak’s eyes, then pretty much any route qualifies!

      The extension to Roanoke doesn’t seem to be happening until 2016 or 2017, so I’ll evaluate it closer to then.

      • Andrew W

        Oh, I wasn’t trying to imply that necessarily. I was trying to make the point that overlaps near terminals and shared dots might be read to imply that, though I know they aren’t here. I was exploring where that would mean changes to the map. I generally felt like overlapping services near terminals was confusing, especially when one terminated and the other did not (LA, Seattle, Portland). I thought that this might lead to confusion, or an expectation of a timed connection, and was trying to figure out where that might be appropriate. I also think it might be interesting to add dots in the style of Chicago (paired, one above the other) in parallel to intermediate station dots, when two services terminate at one station but go in opposite directions, such as in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Seattle, and New York. I can show you what I mean soon, I’m away from my desktop at the moment.

  7. Pingback: Draft: NEW Amtrak Subway Map for 2015 | Cameron Booth

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