New York State Expansion Thoughts

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New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:01 pm

I've been watching with interest the extreme success that Virginia has had with extending NEC trains to southern points.

It seems to me that NYS has so focused on someday adding more ALB-BUF trains, that perhaps they should consider for now, more extensions of existing trains to existing or new locations.

For example, a 2nd frequency of the Ethan Allen (and get VT to pony).
Another to Saratoga.

Are there other routes that could be easily extended w/o requiring more equipment (or perhaps just a small amount of equipment to rebalance the trains that currently turn at Albany).
Anything towards Binghamton perhaps? (Perhaps a Binghamton/Syracuse/Albany loop?)

With the double-track to Schenectady, that greatly opens up possibilities there.

But it seems to me that NYS focuses more on eventually extending everything to Buffalo.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:16 pm

Re: Bingo, do you mean ALB-Binghamton or NYC-Binghamton? SYR-Bingo seems primarily a rail fan dream, but there is persistent talk of NYC-Binghamton-BUF via the Southern Tier...

Also, I don't expect Amtrak to serve them directly, but is there through ticketing via LIRR to the Hamptons?
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:27 pm

The one that is a real expansion proposal is the NY-VT Bi-State Intercity Passenger Rail study co-funded by both states. That's the new route to Rutland via the lower Western Corridor and Mechanicville + Hoosick Jct. The NY side of that study strongly preferred keeping the Ethan Allen on its current route and bolster service to Saratoga rather than swapping Albany-Burlington over to the new route, but did see enough upside in their potential intermediates on the new route to give it an endorsement. This may mean that the EAE re-truncates back to Rutland (to avoid the reverse move @ RUT to/from Burlington) while the new route absorbs the lion's share of VT-specific demand N.Bennington-Rutland-Burlington...in which case the EAE becomes much more New York's train than it is now.

That one is pretty much a cinch to happen once VTrans stashes enough pennies to quietly upgrade the North Bennington-Rutland trackage to commensurate condition as the Rutland-Burlington trackage they spent a quiet decade upgrading in prep for the imminent EAE Burlington extension launch. A fed grant or two would help since the lower Western Corridor starts out in worse shape than the pre-upgrade upper WC...but that's more a "when" question than an "if". It's pretty clear this one is going to get done since both states agree on the total demand served and have reached a general post-study consensus on sticking to separate routings to Rutland. The only major details to square are where the EAE and the new route get their end points sliced-and-diced re: covering Rutland-Burlington: one, the other, or both. And I doubt VTrans has any strong opinions on that one way or the other: North Bennington and Burlington will each get 'a' route any which way they're configured, Rutland will get two routes any which way.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby Noel Weaver » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:32 pm

Don't laugh at me for thinking this one but I think a route from Syracuse to the "North Country" could do pretty well. There are resorts, colleges, lack of interstate highways, industries and other attractions for a daytime connection between Syracuse and Massena. The New York Central last ran passenger trains on this line in the early 1960's with one train a day using a single RDC. Down from Massena in the morning to connect with an EB at Syracuse and return to Massena in the afternoon after a connection with 63. The line might require some work to accomodate Amtrak although Conrail did a major upgrading during their operation in this area, I doubt if CSX has maintained it to anywhere near the standard that Conrail did. CSX would probably demand the house, garage and everything else in the process but it is just my idea.
I think this would be a better alternative than anything else at least anything else that does not have any existing service today. I think the heaviest passenger traffic would be between Watertown and Massena which is college territory, military base and lack of interstate highways would make it look pretty good.
Too bad it is too late for Wassaic - Chatham but the track is long gone and the cost would be super high, it still would have good potential if it were to happen sometime down the road.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby scoostraw » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:36 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:CSX would probably demand the house, garage and everything else in the process but it is just my idea.


They would simply say "If you want to run passenger trains, then build another track next to ours."
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:39 pm

No, I actually mean ALB-Binghamton. In many ways an NYP-Binghamton might make more sense, but not sure of the routing and what equipment from NYP you'd use for that. My proposal is based on extending current Empire Service trains.

I have seen efforts about NY-VT Bi state idea. That's a perfect example and would benefit both states a great deal I think. (and I'd personally love a trip to North Bennington!)

The general idea though would be to take the existing NYP-ALB-BUF 'spine' and add some 'ribs' off of it.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby electricron » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:54 pm

Greg Moore wrote:No, I actually mean ALB-Binghamton. In many ways an NYP-Binghamton might make more sense, but not sure of the routing and what equipment from NYP you'd use for that. My proposal is based on extending current Empire Service trains.

I have seen efforts about NY-VT Bi state idea. That's a perfect example and would benefit both states a great deal I think. (and I'd personally love a trip to North Bennington!)

The general idea though would be to take the existing NYP-ALB-BUF 'spine' and add some 'ribs' off of it.

The problem with adding spurs off the NYC to Buffalo trains is for every train sent to other city is one less train going to all the way to Buffalo, assuming the existing rolling stock fleet remains the same. To actually add trains New York will have to buy Amtrak more trains to use.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby Nasadowsk » Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:57 pm

NYP - Binghamton? There's no way to do it and be time competitive with driving, the bus, or walking...

The most existing route would be up the line from Port Jervis (already a long time to Hoboken), which is slow, curvy, and goes through mostly nowhere.

Binghamton's a dead city. Really dead. Who'd want to go there?

There's not much along the way up there. Hancock? Whoopie, a village you can walk through in 5 minutes. Deposit? Ditto. Narrowsburg? Chochecton? We're reaching at straws here.

You can drive the route in 3 hours or so on a good day. You'd be lucky if the train could do in in twice that. That's assuming no stops along the way.

Syracuse-Binghampton (It's straighter, Syracuse is actually still kind of a city) might make sense if the FRA ever lets you start buying railbus-type trains. i.e., start throwing pigs out a window because one of them's gonna have to fly, first...
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby BandA » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:34 pm

Noel Weaver wrote:...There are resorts, colleges, lack of interstate highways...The New York Central last ran passenger trains on this line in the early 1960's with one train a day using a single RDC. Noel Weaver
You want to build passenger lines as relievers for overcrowded interstates primarily. That's where they've been building the houses for the last sixty-five years. If you've got an area with bad road access they are out of luck; Their role is to be the money donors. Of course sometimes they need rail lines to replace the missing trolley lines or crowded buses.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby gokeefe » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:44 pm

If things were a little easier in terms of the operating environment I would think consideration of an Albany-Buffalo and Buffalo-Cleveland corridor style service might be merited.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:45 pm

IF the "NEW" Tappan Zee Bridge had built in rail corridor space,Bingo from NYP could have been possible,if NY State could iron out
the "mess" on the Suffern -Spring Valley branch under MN control. The state needs to be willing to invest in Dual-Mode Chargers and
Amtrak's version of the "Brightline" passenger cars. More service to Saratoga during the summer(horse) racing season would help.
With VT pitching in,both routes to Rutland should be used.
It would be a "long shot" if fully funded by NY state,Bingo-Syracuse-Massena trains(2 sets of equipment) would work,
as long as there are good connections to both EB and WB trains
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby SemperFidelis » Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:52 pm

If, and it is a rather big if with how poorly we tend to plan things in our country, the stops on a proposed Binghamton/Syracuse to NY Penn were few, far between, limited to the sorts and density of stops one might expect when riding a regional rail sevice instead of a commuter rail service, then I think it would be possible to make such a service work.

Would it ever be competitive to driving without serious upgrades and many, many millions of dollars spent? Heck no.

Part of the next paragraph is me just being tongue in cheek and silly for no reason. No offense is meant to anyone. Just having a little laugh.

The proposed Lackawanna Cutoff service (opening after the flying pigs have all grown old and bored thier flying pig grandchildren with stories about how way back when, back in the good old days before all the millenial pigs went and ruined the farm, how way back before the liberal pigs went against all of the hard work and advancement that dated back to the very creation of the farm a few thousand years ago) has a trip time of something a few minutes over 3.5 hours...to ride a train along a route that can be driven in well better than an hour faster. Granted traffic, accidents, and having to navigate twice daily through one of the worst rush hours in the United States (NJ, NY, and the nightmare that is any of the crossings of the Hudson) make those driving times vary hugely, but I think the point is made.

If a train, using a very well engineered piece of railroad cannot make it to my lovely home city in something under three hours, there is no way, using a very curvy and somewhat less well engineered piece of railroad (Erie Delaware Division) that a train will make it from NY Penn to Binghamton, much less Syracuse, in anything approaching an acceptable time.

I recall reading in more than a few places, including articles in newspapers, some government website material, and opinions aboard this board, that the most likely path to restoration of service to Binghamton and then north to Syracuse would be as an extension of NY Penn to Scranton service.

Sorry, poorly laid out post here...

I guess it makes sense to point out that, as I recall right now, the fastest trains from Hoboken to Port Jervis are those lovely MN expresses that skip most NJ stops and make the run in something just barely longer than 2 hours. Edit: 2hrs 11 minutes. Even with expensive track upgrades, I can't imagine a train making Port Jervis to Binghamton in less than another hour and a half...probably more like another two hours.

On the plus side, there's really very few places one might be tempted to add unneeded stations west of Port Jervis. As someone else pointed out, the area is rather...empty. I suppose Lackawaxen, Narrowsburg, Deposit, and Cohechton (sp?) should all have stations, but they should either be seasonal or...

It would perhaps be nice to see the idea of flag stops dusted off. It can't possibly be beyond our technological capabilities for the reservation system to send a message to either the engineer, conductor, or dispatcher (or a any group of folks who need to know) that there are three tixketed passengers on board who need to detrain at Lackawaxen and one passenger who needs to get on. That can't be too hard to work out, can it? And if we can perform that simple task, certainly we can send messages to all parties that there is no need to stop at Deposit. I would imagine a decent number of high school students these days could probably design an app that in the span of thier study hall at the end of the day. Of course we'd need to hire a consultant who is related to a congressman who will them sesign the same thing, this multimilliom dollar version having so many bugs as to be nearly useless, and then pay the consultant many millions more for a patches necessary to make the system work. To top it all off, we can issue a press release saying that the "new" system patches will save $5 million a year in lost productivity...those losses having been the result of the poor, original design.

Soapbox commentary aside, just like with so many of NJ Transit's glacially-paced services, the designers and operators of these services don't seem to understand that there doesn't necessarily need to be an insanely high top speed, just as few stops as necessary, as few slow orders as necessary, and long stretches where a train can operate at track speed, even if that is just 59mph or whatever. It might not be as sexy to the public as a 110mph line is, but very few of those services seem to ever operate at thier top speed long enough to make a huge difference in the schedule. In this case, a service to a very questionable destination in terms of ridership potential, it would seem that intiating the service as a regional line with maybe 4hr end to end service might be a decent option.

The route west of Binghamton to Buffalo, I think, has decent to good potential for ridership. There are a goodly number of well populated towns along the time as well as many within the reaches a relatively easy drive (like Williamsport, I guess).

ALB to Binghamton ridership? That I am skeptical of because I-88 is like a ghost highway every time I use it. There is very little traffic along the route, including truck traffic. If the speed limit were more reasonable it would be a lovely drive, but as it stands it is long, lonely, and monotonous. Seems to make sense to me to send the trains via Scranton or Port Jervis.

One way or another, it'll never be a commuter line. A brand new regional line run by Amtrak or NY State or a group of states, bringing service either to the sparsely populated area west of Port Jervis and then either servicing the Southern Tier of New Yrok State or following the I-81 corridor to rejoin the Empire Service at Syracuse...or (much more likely in my mind) eventually getting built after service to Scranton finally materializes...those are the two options we will one daydrbate,throw money at, debate again, study etc....until long after we have all passed from this world.
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby johnpbarlow » Tue Sep 26, 2017 4:18 am

Based on my frequent trips from Massachusetts to Long Island, I would like to see direct New England - Long Island (Jamaica) passenger service that avoids NYP. Traffic at Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges and the LIE/Cross Island Parkway can be murder (and traffic on I-95/Merritt Parkway is no picnic either).
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:30 am

Nasadowsk wrote:NYP - Binghamton? There's no way to do it and be time competitive with driving, the bus, or walking...

The most existing route would be up the line from Port Jervis (already a long time to Hoboken), which is slow, curvy, and goes through mostly nowhere.

Binghamton's a dead city. Really dead. Who'd want to go there?

There's not much along the way up there. Hancock? Whoopie, a village you can walk through in 5 minutes. Deposit? Ditto. Narrowsburg? Chochecton? We're reaching at straws here.

You can drive the route in 3 hours or so on a good day. You'd be lucky if the train could do in in twice that. That's assuming no stops along the way.

Syracuse-Binghampton (It's straighter, Syracuse is actually still kind of a city) might make sense if the FRA ever lets you start buying railbus-type trains. i.e., start throwing pigs out a window because one of them's gonna have to fly, first...

Metro Binghamton has a population of ~250k. It's the largest metro in NY without passenger rail service and the one of the largest such metros in the Northeast, after Scranton/Wilkes-Barre PA and Manchester, NH. That's why the idea of a NYP-Scranton-Binghamton train keeps cropping up. Ticks a lot of boxes, especially if you extend it to either Syracuse or Buffalo.

Anybody have any idea what the scheduled times were for NY-Binghamton-Syracuse via the Erie or the DL&W?
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Re: New York State Expansion Thoughts

Postby johnpbarlow » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:09 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:Anybody have any idea what the scheduled times were for NY-Binghamton-Syracuse via the Erie or the DL&W?


Per the July 1958 Official Guide, depart Hoboken on DL&W #3, the Phoebe Snow, at 10:35AM and arrive Binghamton at 3:03PM, or 4.5 hours later. Change at Binghamton to train #1901 departing two minutes later at 3:05PM (don't dawdle!) arriving Syracuse at 4:50PM, an hour and 45 minutes later. End to end time was 6 hours and 15 minutes. The return Syracuse to Hoboken trip would take 7 hours with 34 minutes spent at Binghamton waiting for Phoebe Snow #6 to depart at 2:07PM. There was a 2nd option via a pair of overnight trains connecting at Binhamton (the Owl westbound and the New York Mail eastbound) that took about 8.5 hours to make the Syracuse-Hoboken trip, probably because they were mail trains having longer station dwell times. In 1958, there were no Syracuse-Hoboken through cars.

Amtrak runs Syracuse to NYP in just under 6 hours today.
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