Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfield)

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Housatonic Railroad Thread (Maybrook, Berkshire, Pittsfield)

Postby jstolberg » Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:11 pm

The Housatonic Railroad Co. now says it wants to bring back passenger service permanently on its line between Danbury and Pittsfield, Mass.

http://www.rep-am.com/news/local/488858.txt

If ridership projections are favorable, the company is willing to spend up to $150 million to upgrade the 90 mile line.
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Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby Trainer » Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:49 am

I know that this isn't an Metro North project, but since it would provide connection service from an MNCR station, I thought it might be of interest.

Housatonic Railroad exploring reopening passenger line from Danbury to Massachusetts

"Restoring passenger train service to New Milford has long been the subject of studies by various state agencies. Now Housatonic Railroad, which owns the 90 miles of track from Danbury to Massachusetts is taking matters into its own hands. The privately owned rail company is working on the concept of restoring passenger service along the line. A study is underway by the Massachusetts-based firm Market Street Research of Northampton."


http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/H ... 523076.php

I love the idea. I just don't understand how it could break even.

PS: I noticed that the Waterbury Republican had story in much greater detail:

http://www.rep-am.com/news/local/488858.txt

"It may be possible to operate a passenger service at substantially lower cost to the public than traditional commuter rail operations."


Ouch!
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Re: Danbury - Pittsfield Service?

Postby shlustig » Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:13 pm

IIRC, the last through passenger train over this line was a 1972 or 1973 (Penn Central days) excursion from GCT via Norwalk / Danbury / Pittsfield / Chatham / Brewster / NWP/ GCT. Used FL-9's and NH equipment. Went from 8AM to about 11PM. Weather was weird: 75-degrees on the way up and snow on the Upper Harlem on the way back!
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Re: Danbury - Pittsfield Service?

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:37 pm

shlustig wrote:IIRC, the last through passenger train over this line was a 1972 or 1973 (Penn Central days) excursion from GCT via Norwalk / Danbury / Pittsfield / Chatham / Brewster / NWP/ GCT. Used FL-9's and NH equipment. Went from 8AM to about 11PM. Weather was weird: 75-degrees on the way up and snow on the Upper Harlem on the way back!


I don't have the date handy but it seems to me that the above trip took place a week or two before day one of Amtrak.
In so far as through service between New York and Pittsfield is concerned, Penn Central took over the New Haven on
January 1, 1969 and the through service to Pittsfield lasted for about a month or so and then the standard equipment was
operated between New York and Danbury and a Budd Car took over at Danbury for the trip north to Pittsfield.
This has something to do with the Metro Region but I believe they did not use the Budd Car in Danbury but rather deadheaded a car over from New Haven for this operation to Pittsfield. The parlor car came off at the same time and the
$4.90 rount trip out of New York every Sunday went the same way too. The New Haven reasoned that as long as we have to
run the train, we might as will attract as many riders as possible. Penn Central reasoned that if we can discourage riders we
might be able to cut the train down to a Budd Car and save money and maybe with a little luck, remove it entirely. The
Pittsfield trains came off on day one of Amtrak and the Harlem trains to Chatham lasted into 1972 by a court order. The
Chatham train came off in the middle of the day and passengers were told when they got to Grand Central Terminal that
afternoon that the train to Chatham would terminate at Dover Plains and that was that. No passenger trains ran again to or
from Chatham after that fateful day in late March, 1972.
Today the area north of Dover Plains has grown and there could well be a need for restoration of the commuter service but
unfortunately the tracks north of Wassaic have been torn up.
Update to now, I don't think a Housatonic Railroad passenger operation between Danbury and Pittsfield is a particularly good
idea unless there is a major upgrading of the track and decent equipment is obtained. What intercity traveler wants to ride
25 or 30 MPH over rotten track in an old non AC coach behind a historic locomotive just to ride a train between Danbury and
Pittsfield. The logical thing that should happen in this case is for the two states to get involved, spend the funds to
upgrade the track to at least 50 MPH then have Metro-North operate the service using Metro-North equipment and crews.
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby Hoghead » Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:46 pm

I don't have the link but in the Berkshire Record, Mr J Hanlon owner of the HRRC said that the line would be upgraded to 50mph and that Equipment would be indeed regular commuter equipment such as the metra equipment with $200,000 spent on each one to update and rehab with additional power aqquired ! As to crews, I see no reason why a HRRC crew cannot operate a commuter train if they are capable of operating a 15 to 115 car freight any given day of the week given the traffic ! I have done both and found no big difference except the fringe bennys of a passenger engineer ! I think that if Mr Hanlon does indeed have the backing of fiancing and this study does show the need then more power to him and good luck to him ! :-D
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby DutchRailnut » Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:52 pm

The service to Great Barrington from Wassaic is being canceled due to not enough customers and not enough funding.
My take on the HHRC deal is They probably want CDOT to provide the FL-9's and SPV cars for that service, then get 100 million for track upgrade.
and another 150 Milion for PTC before 2015, I can't see Mr Hanlon pulling all that cash from his pockets or have creditors lend money for a non-orofit deal.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Housatonic May Restart Passenger Service

Postby DutchRailnut » Tue Jun 15, 2010 5:05 am

If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:42 am

GCT-Pittsfield seems like an awfully long ride in commuter equipment. Maybe they're targeting commuters from southern Litchfield heading for the Stamford/Greenwich area?

FWIW I think there would be real potential for ridership on a Pittsfield-Danbury-GCT through service, particularly during the summer months (given the popularity of Litchfield county as a summer and weekend destination for NY'ers)-- but I think you'd need something more comfortable than the current MNRR bomb equipment to notch up decent ridership.

Didn't HRRC propose this once before, years and years ago-- in like 1989 or so? Have a clear memory of my father pointing out an article about it in the NY Times.
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby TomNelligan » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:03 pm

It's nice to know that the Housatonic RR, unlike the mega-railroads, would welcome restoration of passenger service on its line. The problem is that proposing is easy, but finding the money to support this will be very, very hard in the current economc climate. My guess is that daily commuter service to New Milford might happen sometime in the foreseeable future, but beyond that, it will be excursions only.
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby workextra » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:15 pm

The PTC is going to be the killer if it actually does start up, unless a waiver can be maintained. (I doubt it).
Would this be able to be funded by federal monies for improvement of passenger rail service?
To help keep the cost down all platforms should be low except for 1 high spot to satisfy ADA requirements
Through service would need to be a something more comfortable then standard commuter equipment.
Smooth riding coaches with large windows and comfortable seating is a must.
All the power to him!
What's hard is that since the take over by the (personal car and its get in and go convenience) how willing are people going to be to live by a train schedule. epically one that might not have hourly service.
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Re: Housatonic May Restart Passenger Service

Postby electricron » Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:03 pm

jstolberg wrote:If ridership projections are favorable, the company is willing to spend up to $150 million to upgrade the 90 mile line.

Actually the quote should read as
If the survey results support the reintroduction of passenger service, Hanlon said his company stands ready to spend, with the help of other investors, $100 million to $150 million to improve the tracks and other infrastructure along the 90 miles of rail his company controls between Danbury and Pittsfield.

Also from the news article:
Hanlon said his privately owned company, working on this concept for the past two years, had hoped to get funding for a study from federal stimulus grants sought by the state Department of Transportation, but gave up when no funds for rail transport came through.
"We're talking about rebuilding the entire railroad," said Colin Pease, Housatonic's vice president for special projects.

So, basically, they're willing to incorporate passenger rail services if that would help raise funds for rebuilding the entire railroad. Isn't it obvious they weren't able to raise these funds for just freight services? Or am I reading too much between the lines?
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby Mr rt » Wed Jun 16, 2010 7:20 am

Mr Hanlon of the HHRC has either been smoking something or is after some federal money to upgrade track & after the service starts or just before it will be cancelled.
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:40 pm

I think it has a shot, and could be a model for CT in other areas, too. Imagine P&W or Pan Am running a service (okay, maybe not Pan Am). It could be the Wassaic - GB bus service is suffering due to the economy, or some of the other reasons postulated here for the hurdles this service will face, i.e. commuter equipment gonig the longer distance to Wassaic vs people just having a second car waiting at Wassaic. They would do the same at GB.

I think the idea of the FL9's from CDOT being contributed is a great idea. Not sure about the SPV's; I know they're demotorized but I think the interior seating would have to revert to Amtrak NEC style. I don't know if the VRE equipment would work that way. I remember back in the day LIRR had some type of parlor car service; they'd need something along the lines of at least NE regional type coaches for that distance, with maybe a second class commuter coach for those just heading to Danbury, Norwalk or Stamford. CT has been holding on to this type of equipment for a reason.

As for this potentially being a model for other service, it may blow all the wasted years of studies out of the water. I mean, there's logical extensions of this idea. P&W has the freight rights below Danbury. P&W has rights below Derby Jct on the Naugy, with Pan Am (Springfield Term) to Waterbury and on to Hartford, and the Naugy from Waterbury to Thomaston? Ownership of the western CT lines is primarily CDOT, with a mish-mosh of CDOT and the HRRC above Danbury. Who pays for the improvements on the CDOT owned portions?

I could see the Danbury and Waterbury branches being removed from MNRR operation, to be operated under either CDOT or the freight railroads if this idea goes anywhere, with rights and ownership to be sorted out by negotiation. Yes, they'd need MNRR pilots on the main line (although you could conceivably end Waterbury service at a new Devon station on a siding). Start the service at Stamford maybe.

This could also extend to the service proposed out of New London to Worcester. NHHS would be a no since that line is owned by Amtrak.
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby D.Carleton » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:46 pm

workextra wrote:The PTC is going to be the killer if it actually does start up, unless a waiver can be maintained.
Per this thread "Class II and Class III carriers are exempted, and passenger trains operating on those carriers may also be exempted, on an individual basis, by the Secretary of Transportation." It is highly doubtful this proposed service will exceed one trip per day so an exemption is not out of the question.
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Re: Proposed Danbury-Pittsfield service?

Postby DutchRailnut » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:16 pm

Sarge wrote:I think the idea of the FL9's from CDOT being contributed is a great idea. Not sure about the SPV's; I know they're demotorized but I think the interior seating would have to revert to Amtrak NEC style. I don't know if the VRE equipment would work that way. I remember back in the day LIRR had some type of parlor car service; they'd need something along the lines of at least NE regional type coaches for that distance, with maybe a second class commuter coach for those just heading to Danbury, Norwalk or Stamford. CT has been holding on to this type of equipment for a reason.

I could see the Danbury and Waterbury branches being removed from MNRR operation, to be operated under either CDOT or the freight railroads if this idea goes anywhere, with rights and ownership to be sorted out by negotiation. Yes, they'd need MNRR pilots on the main line (although you could conceivably end Waterbury service at a new Devon station on a siding). Start the service at Stamford maybe.

This could also extend to the service proposed out of New London to Worcester. NHHS would be a no since that line is owned by Amtrak.


The HRRC would not have operating rights on MNCR, including Danbury station, our(ACRE) Labor contract forbids that.
As for Branch lines going CDOT ?? who would operate them, again Amtrak or HRRC does not have operating agreements with MNCR or CDOT
Don't hold your breath on HRRC getting anything, HRRC has always opted for free ride, from Screwing MNCR operating rights over Maybrook to Derby, to getting free welded rail and ties from CDOT.
To blocking the trackage rights by Carnival train at Fairgrounds, and ruining the Croton river bridge.
Don't expect HRRRC to make any sacifices including Financial or on how they operate a railroad
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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