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Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
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   Author  Topic: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System  (Read 1384 times)
George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #20 on: Aug 24th, 2005, 4:30am »
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August update has finally appeared, giving "Progress through July 2005"
 
It looks like work is turning more toward stations.  
 
125,000LF of CWR has been laid to date  (11.84 track-miles)  
"Work began at Riverfront Station on August 1, 2005"
Platform work has started at Lebanon and Mt. Juliet
"Locomotives have been primed and ready for new paint scheme."
"Modifcation have begun on the cab cars to ready them for service."
Three turnouts have been replaced
 
Not sure that the track work on the realighned sections is in the rail installation given in this report.
 
No mention of financial status was made.  
 
Obtaining the $6.2 million not yet appropriated is still listed as a critical issue.


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George_Harris
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Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #21 on: Oct 6th, 2005, 3:46am »
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At last, the September update appeared on their web site.  This represents progress through August.
 
HIghlights are:
 
"All new rails have been installed
All new ties have been installed
Signal system is 65% complete."
 
Included is a picture of the new platform at Mt. Juliet station.  
 
Not in the update, but in the agenda for the September 27 Oversight Committee meeting (minutes of which have not yet appeared) is the statement, "As of the 8/25/05, $15,962,815 (65%) worth of work has been completed of the currently $24,660,858 that has been obligated."
 
They are still trying to get a loan to cover work which is to covered by promised but not yet received Federal money.  They are also trying to get the Tennessee congressional delegation to push through delivery what has already been promised.  
 
Opening date still supposed to be sometime in January or February.
 
George


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Royal_Palm
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Posts: 112
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #22 on: Nov 29th, 2005, 11:09am »
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I can only guess that the decision-makers expect Nashville to grow at a tremendous pace; it is much smaller than any other area with commuter rail service. I can see two or three trains to Murfreesboro but I really have my doubts about these other lines. Nashville is also a very spread-out city; not too many folks will be able to walk to the stations. We shall see.

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George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #23 on: Nov 29th, 2005, 11:20pm »
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While Murfreesboro might have the greatest demand, it would also be one of the most expensive to implement.  It is on the heavily used single track CSX - ex L&N - ex NC&StL main line to Chattanooga.  This line needs work (additional sidings or partial double tracking) to improve its capacity just to reliably handle the freight traffic it has now.  CSX would be likely to want full double track to agree to handle commuter trains, and to have any sort of reliability, it probably should be double tracked.    
 
The line east, Nashville and Eastern, ex CSX, ex L&N, originally Tennessee Central, is already state owned, with a leased operator that has also done passenger operations for the Tennessee Central Railway Museum.  The main problem was the rather poor track condition, lots of 80 lb/yd rail and very little over 100 lb/yd, relatively poor tie condition, 25 mph speed limit.  All this is being cured in the most economical way practical.  Freight traffic is probably no more than a couple of trains per day.  This line is therefore one of the cheapest cost wise and quickest time-wise and least complicated agreement wise on which to implement service.  All these points make it the logical first line.  
 
If they had decided to start with the Murfreesboro line, they would likely still be arguing out the terms of the agreement with CSX and then be looking at $50 million plus for new track and about another 5 years at least before the first train would run.    
 
I can tell you that this 7 to 10 year time frame following a decision to build is simply too long a time frame for a first segment.  Somewhere in this period a political death would likely occur.  When dealing with a new rail scheme, the easiest to develop VIABLE segment should be pushed to operation as quickly as possible.  I emphasize viable, because if ridership is too low, instead of showing the usefulness of the system, you have only given ammunition to those that would kill it.  This is what I see Nashville trying to do.  
 
It might have been easier to put trains on the relatively lightly trafficked CSX - ex L&N ex NC&StL Memphis line because it already has good rail (115 lb/yd so far as I know), a signal system, and a 50 mph freight speed limit which would mean that you could have a 60 mph plus passenger limit on the track as-is, but the population out that way is too low, so the ridership would not be there.  I am inclined to agree with them that the line to Lebanon was the place to start.  My only question is why did they end at downtown Lebanon rather than carry on about another 2 to 3 miles to a large park and ride lot near the I40-US70 interchange?  
 
George


« Last Edit: Feb 24th, 2006, 5:30am by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #24 on: Feb 16th, 2006, 3:39am »
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At last, musiccitystar has updated their web site.  Had about decided that they had chosen to let it die.  They have brought it up to date through the agenda for the February 14 meeting.  
 
An operator has been chosen, Transit Solutions Group, approved at the RTA's January 18, 2006 board meeting.  Who they are, I have no idea.  Last I had heard they were well on their way to an agreement with Nashville and Eastern, the freight operator of the line.    
 
Signal work and grade crossing signal work is still under way, but all track work is done except final surfacing.  Station work is under way at all stations except Martha (mp 23) where the site is unavailable, and a decision to develop a temporary station there has been made.  Construction has started on the overnight layover facility at Lebanon.    
 
There finance issues seem to be resolved.  It appears the last of the grants are in the pipeline and a line of credit has been obtained so that work stoppages can be avoided while the political process grinds through its procedures, which they expect to be 30 to 60 days.    
 
They are developing ride guides and an advertising plan.  No mention was made of the currently planned opening date, but it must be over 6 weeks from the current time, as they stated that the Ride Guides would be made available to the public 6 weeks before operations commence.    
 
"As of 1/25/06, $22,548,622  (82%) worth of work has been completed of the currently $27,758,526 that has been obligated."  
 
on Nov 29th, 2005, 11:09am, Royal_Palm wrote:       (Click here for original message)
I can only guess that the decision-makers expect Nashville to grow at a tremendous pace; it is much smaller than any other area with commuter rail service. I can see two or three trains to Murfreesboro but I really have my doubts about these other lines. Nashville is also a very spread-out city; not too many folks will be able to walk to the stations. We shall see.

The residents may be fairly spread out, so driving to stations will be a big part of it, but employment is not so spread out.  Remember, Nashville is basically and office worker's town.  The biggest "industry" is probably the state government.  The country Music "industry" is also fairly big and again does not have sprawled out manufacturing plants.  I put industry in quotations because there is no tangible product produced by either one of these.  
 
George


« Last Edit: Mar 10th, 2006, 2:05am by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #25 on: Feb 24th, 2006, 5:23am »
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No new monthly reports or board minutes have been added to their web site, but the opening date appears to have slipped some more.  Their web site now has the following statement:
 
"Rail service will begin weekday commuter operations in late summer 2006 between Lebanon and Nashville. The work being completed along the line is to upgrade the existing line for ongoing passenger service. The end result will be a quicker, smoother and more efficient ride when completed."
 
Also added to their web is two page article copied out of Passenger Transport.  It was written by a marketing type, so it does tend to be somewhat of a puff piece.  The copy quality is somewhat poor.
 
George


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George_Harris
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Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #26 on: Mar 10th, 2006, 2:00am »
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It appears that they are no longer putting monthly reports on their web site.    
 
The have posted the Feb. 28 meeting minutes, but they say very little.  Still nothing about why the opening changed from Spring to late summer.  It does appear that this has a lot to do with the as yet unfinished state of the stations.  For construction update, the report does it in three lines as follows:  
 
"Kevin Walker briefed the committee on the construction activities.  The ballast cleaner has arrived and is in the field.  Outlying stations are being finalized with paving and landscaping.  Riverfront Station is looking very good.  Mr. Paul Ballard suggested that the next meeting include a field trip to the Riverfront Station."  
 
It appears that the final federal $6 million they needed is finally on its way through the glacial federal process.  
 
They are talking about opening ceremonies and operational mobilization, so it has got to appear to them that the end is in sight.    
 
Some scheduling of trains issues are being raised, so some of their potential riders are beginning to take serious looks at the times.    
 
George


« Last Edit: Mar 10th, 2006, 2:08am by George_Harris » Logged
Mark_Foster
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Posts: 918
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #27 on: Mar 10th, 2006, 1:38pm »
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Hi George,
 
As I understand it the Riverfront Station is the old TC station in downtown Nashville along the Cumberland River. It's probably been 60 years since I last saw it but IIRC that was a stub ended station requiring trains to either back in or back out of it. This won't be a problem if they are planning push-pull operations. If not they will have to WYE the trains around which is not very efficient. Do you know what the track layout is like at Riverfront and what mode of operations are planned?
 
Mark
 


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George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #28 on: Mar 10th, 2006, 10:07pm »
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Mark,
 
No, the station is not the old TC station.  The track chart shows the Riverfront Station as being at MP 0.4, but I do not know if the original station was at MP 0.0 or not.  The TC building was torn down sometime around the time of their bankruptcy and subsequent division between ICG, L&N, and Southern.  The Riverfront Station is a fairly small building.  There are architect's renderings of it on their web, www.musiccitystar.org   Property taxes probably had a lot to do with it the old building being demolished.  
 
Property taxes are fairly high in Tennessee, and Nashville-Davidson County is not one of the cheap ones because so much of the downtown is state government buildings and therefore not on the local tax rolls.  Also, public utility property in Tennessee is or was assessed by the state while non-utility property was assessed by the local governments doing the taxing.  Generally utilities were assessed at 100% of nominal market value while non-utility property was assessed at a fraction, usually 50% or less.  This disparity was at least legally overtured after a lawsuit 20 or so years ago in which the railroads, telephone companies, private electric companies, and pipeline companies got together and sued the state (and all 95 counties IIRC) of the inequity and won.   When the Tennessee Central went bankrupt in 1960's whatever 6, 7, or 8, property taxes were named as part of the problem.  Specifically they named Cumberland county in which they owned something like 2% of the land and paid something like 20% of the property taxes collected by the county, or some similar disparity in ratio, the exact numbers I have forgotten.
 
The operation will be push-pull.  It appears that there will be only one stub in track at the station.  There is a layover track about 2,000 feet long shown to the east of the station.  Turnouts are shown on the track charts at MP 0.66 and 1.09.  I am guessing with the engine on the east end, but not really sure of that.  
 
George


« Last Edit: Mar 10th, 2006, 10:17pm by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #29 on: Mar 29th, 2006, 5:50am »
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At last!  Nashville has another update.  It is posted as the March 28 update, but it also includes the March 14 minutes.  Sounds like the “Late Summer” opening will actually happen.  They are also talking about running a “Special events train for Nashville’s Fourth of July fireworks.  (Maybe I can get up there to ride it! )  The major remaining problem appears to be obtaining insurance up to the required limit of $200 million at a price they can afford, and as part of that showing the ability to come up with a $2 million “Self Insured Retention Fund”, effectively the deductible, in case of a claim.  The insurance apparently must be in place before they can even do any test runs or operator training, which they want to start on June 1.  Apparently the Madrid commuter system and London subway bombings have caused a huge jump in the cost of insurance for public transit.
 
Construction Update:  
 
“As of 2/25/06, $23,547,101 (83%) worth of work has been completed of the currently $28,267,187 that has been obligated.”
 
“ballast cleaning is complete, Phase II of the grade crossing signals were installed, landscaping, curbing and electrical work have been completed at both Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, the concrete platforms are completed at both Hermitage and Donelson and installation of insulation, drywall and exterior masonry and metal roofing has begun at Riverfront Station.”  Estimated completion status was about “Signals 90%, Stations 75%, Trackwork 90%.
 
At least it is good to see that they are really getting close to having a system.  May they be overwhelmed with ridership.
 
George


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George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #30 on: Apr 24th, 2006, 12:26am »
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A new set of Oversight Committee minutes has appeared on their web site.  The latest construction update in the April 11 information found on the website says, "As of 3/25/06, $24,826,299 (87%) worth of work has been completed of the currently $28,410,755 that has been obligated." Most of the work left appears to be related to stations and parking.  There is a little track and signal work still outstanding, as well.  
 
The main problem the system appears to be facing is insurance and the ability to have cash for a Self Insured Retention Fund of $2 million.  At this point, to obtain $50 million coverage will cost over $1 million for the first year, and the NERR want there to be $200 million coverage.  The inability to obtain insurance may result in a delay in start up, because there can be no test running without insurance.  
 
I have a feeling if the true costs of all these "I stubbed my toe in your store so pay me $1,000,000" lawsuits were realized generally, they would be brought to a screeching halt and a lot of the lawyers sitting in legislative bodies around the country that make these things easy would be out of office and have to figure out how to make an honest living.
 
George


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George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #31 on: Jun 1st, 2006, 5:05am »
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I am a little late getting this on, but:
 
"As of 4/25/06, $25,588,361 (90%) worth of work has been completed of the currently $28,437,695 that has been obligated." Most of the work left appears to be the small stuff related to stations and parking.  There is a little signal work still going on plus work on the Lebanon Layover Facility, which is supposed to be concluded by now.    
 
The insurance and the ability to have cash for a Self Insured Retention Fund appear to have not yet been resolved, which may be affecting the start of training and test running, which is supposed to begin in June.  
 
Temporary facilities are being constructed for Martha, as the state's work on the state highway 109 changes are still not finished - have they started?
 
Their last board meeting included presentation of proposed downtown circulating buses, so the start up is really looking close.
 
I did not make it to Nashville while I was in the US last month, so no first hand observations.
 
George


« Last Edit: Jun 1st, 2006, 5:08am by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #32 on: Jun 9th, 2006, 2:18am »
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Several things have recently appeared on the musiccitystar.org web site.  There are now monthly progress reports for all months from October 2005 through May 2006, except December 2005.  Also appearing is the agenda for the June 13, 2006 oversight committee meeting.  Item six gives a proposed opening date as follows:
 
Friday, September 15, 2006, Grand Opening Event
Monday, September 18, 2006, Revenue Operations Date

 
It also says that the N&E will begin operating under the GCOR from June 11, and that operting staff training will begin  July 19.  "Over the road testing of the trains and training of the crews is expected to begin in late July."
 
Item 7 includes, among other things, "As of 5/25/06, $26,145,049 (92%) worth of work has been completed of the currently $28,442,582 that has been obligated."  
 
George


« Last Edit: Jun 9th, 2006, 2:21am by George_Harris » Logged
George_Harris
Historian
Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #33 on: Jul 10th, 2006, 3:45am »
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A couple of new development here:
 
All monthly reports through June are now on the musiccitystar.org web site.  
 
Also, the week's newsletter form the National Corridors Initiative, found at  www.nationalcorridors.org/df/df07102006.shtml  contains a short article and several pictures of stations and track.  
 
The "minutes" for the July 11 meeting are also on the site.  Even thoguh called minutes, they are actually minutes of the last meeting and the agenda items for July 11.  It appears that they are fast approaching finishing and that the opening date is holding.  They are also into the last minute surprises stage.  
 
One of them is surprising to me that it took so long to find which is that one curve that is shown on the track chart as a four degree curve is actually an eight degree curve.  It was at least short enough that in could be relined to the four degrees that it was supposed to be within the right of way.  Under Tennessee Central, with a speed limit that so far as I know never exceeded 35 mph, this error made no difference.
 
They found a few pieces of open hearth rail in track near the Riverfront Station (that stuff has got to be really old) and are realizing that they will need to have rails on hand to replace defective rails found by the Sperry car, and finally are finding that the ballast cleaning operation is leaving them in the need for more rock than they thought.  
 
All these items are stated as being handled by a change to the existing trackwork contract without any effect on the opening date.  
 
Train crews have been hired and testing will begin this week.  
 
The FRA is sending their track geometry car to run over the system.
 
And, finally, "As of 6/25/06, $26,667,911 (93%) worth of work has been completed of the currently $28,618,196 that has been obligated."  
 
Curiously, after seeing the under $30 million number for a long time, there is another sheet that shows a total obligated cost of $40,855,775.  Looking at this particular page, it appears the $28 million relates to the railroad rehabilitation only.  Most of the difference relates to costs of stations and parking.  
 
George


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George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #34 on: Sep 11th, 2006, 2:08am »
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The July update had no real new information, and there has been no August update posted.  Howeve, it does look like the September 18, 2006 opening date is going to happen.  Go to www.musiccitystar.org and click on the block for schedules and fares, and you will find the schedule they intend to operate beginning Sept. 18.  It will have three inbound morning trains, two of them from Lebanonand the other from Mt. Juliet.  No mention was made of the Sept. 15 Opening ceremonies previously talked about.  
 
Saw somewhere that this will be the only rail commuter sercvice into a city that has no rail service otherwise.  The last passenger train into Nashville was the Floridian.  
 
Hope somebody in the area will get out there and ride it and tell us about it.  I'm a little far away to make it.  
 
George


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George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #35 on: Oct 25th, 2006, 3:09am »
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By now this is old news.
 
They opened on September 18, 2006, appaerently without problems.  
 
Now for a little information on how it is doing.  The Oversight Committee Meeting Agenda for October 10, 2006 has some discussion on ridership at other information.  
 
First:  "the overall cost of construction was $28,746,988 over a duration of 24 months.  Construction started in September 2004."
 
Wow!  That is less than one million per mile to turn a 25 mph dark territory branch line into a 60 mph signaled main line.
 
"Trend lines for both ridership and revenue indicate that the service will exceed teh revenue for cast by the end fo teh fiscal year."
 
"Ridership for the first month averaged 549 passengers a day. . . . Staff believes that the ridership is on track to meet the projected 1,500 trips by the end of June, or nine months after starting."  According to the graph in the report, the ridership was just short of 800 on the first day, and varied between about 440 and 590 for the other 9 operating days in September, with only 3 days below 500 passengers.
 
They plan to run special trains to serve Titan's games on Nov. 11, Dec. 17 and 31.  No schedule information was included for these trains.
 
Unlike Albuquerque, there were no free days of operation to entice ridership.  It was pay your fare from the get go.  75% of the tickes sold the first month were monthly passes!  This sounds like a lot of the ridership they are seeing has committed inself to staying on board.
 
It looks like we have liftoff.    
 
George


« Last Edit: Oct 25th, 2006, 3:15am by George_Harris » Logged
Royal_Palm
Railfan
Posts: 112
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #36 on: Feb 15th, 2007, 5:37pm »
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Looked at their website today. They plan at some point to run service to Ashland City on ex-Tennessee Central line to Clarksville. I don't know what the right-of-way is like now, but they should consider re-laying the track between Ashland City and Clarksville. Clarksville now has well over 100,000 people and I am sure that a lot of soldiers at Fort Campbell would like to be able to take rail back and forth. There would sure be no freight interference on this line!!

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George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #37 on: Feb 16th, 2007, 3:54am »
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on Feb 15th, 2007, 5:37pm, Royal_Palm wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Looked at their website today. They plan at some point to run service to Ashland City on ex-Tennessee Central line to Clarksville. !

Can you post a link?  I could not find what you are talking about.
George


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George_Harris
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Posts: 3824
Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
 
« Reply #38 on: Aug 8th, 2007, 5:29pm »
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As far as operating commuter service northwest from Nashville to Clarksdale and on to Ft. Campbell:  It appears that beyond Ashland City the tracks are gone.  Some of it now a trail, and some of it has been sold to various private owners.
See:  www.cumberlandrivertrail.org/history.htm
According to this, the portion from Nashville to Ashland City is currently owned by the Cheatham Rail Authority, and the track remaining is operated by the Nashville & Western Railroad between Nashville and an Industrial Park just south of Ashland City.  Through Ashland City itself and beyond it is a trail, either in service or planned up to just short of the Cheatham / Montgomery county line.  Some of this is owned by the Rail Authority, the rest by the city of Ashand City.  It appears that beyond that point the right of way has gone into the hands of private owners.  
 
George


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George_Harris
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Re: Nashville Tennessee Commuter Line & System
  musiccitystarridership2006-7.gif - 35618 Bytes
« Reply #39 on: Sep 17th, 2007, 6:57pm »
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Taday's Nashville Tennessean had a somewhat less than glowing article about ridership on the Music City Star.  
 
www.thetennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?aid=/20070915/news09/709150358
 
It is headlined:  "Music City Star misses ridership goal by half" with the subhead saying, "Empty seats may signal more than growing pains" but the article is not near as negative as the headline.   The essence is:  
 
Quote:
The Regional Transportation Authority predicted a first-year average of 1,500 daily riders on the Music City Star, but fewer than half the projected number are boarding the train each day. The train saw an average near 640 daily riders at its peak this summer.
 
Officials say they have a core group of loyal riders that is slowly growing, and it's too soon to decide whether the Star is viable based on passengers.  
. . . . .
 
Nobody thought mass transit would be embraced, Dallas Area Rapid Transit spokesman Morgan Lyons said.
 
"That proved not to be the case,'' Lyons said. "Our ridership is strong, and it continues to grow."
 
The following chart I will remove after a couple of days, as I am not sure how legit it is for me to put it in.  
 
The Trinity Railway Express easily met projections of 1,200-1,500 riders per day at year's end, Lyons said. It added a light rail system with more frequent stops throughout Dallas, and has since connected to Fort Worth. It now averages about 9,000 riders per day.
. . . .
 
While it will be several years before Midstate residents see even a design presented for the next leg of a commuter rail system, the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization will initiate a study next month to see if rail is the best alternative for Sumner County commuters.

 
The article also mentioned that the route was chosen because it was easiest to implement, not because it was toward the high end in potential ridership.
 
There are a couple of major points that are missed:  The large difference in population of the service area between Nashville and Dallas.  Also, there is nothing in Nashville like the DART lines in Dallas the permit a cross platform change to many parts of the city.  


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