New London - Worcester Passenger Service

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porkfriedrice
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New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by porkfriedrice » Fri Apr 09, 2010 3:18 am

http://www.norwichbulletin.com/carousel ... easibility
By TOM CHIARI
Norwich Bulletin
Posted Apr 09, 2010 @ 12:04 AM
Thompson, Conn. —
Although only two trains, both freight, rumble through Thompson each day, officials believe the Providence and Worcester Railroad tracks in the northeast corner could be a huge asset to the area.
“It’s an untapped resource for commuter and community development possibilities,” Thompson Director of Planning and Development Kevin Kennedy said.
The town has been offered a $9,000 grant to study the feasibility of re-establishing passenger rail service in town. Taxpayers will vote on whether to accept the money later this month.
Kennedy said future developments could include a new platform station serving Thompson’s urban center and a spur for the Thompson Rail Business Park on Reardon Road.
I like railroads as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous. According to Wikipedia, Thompson has a population of around nine thousand. This is wasted money. "Thompson's urban center" haha.

Ridgefielder
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Ridgefielder » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:52 am

Might not be as ridiculous as it seems at first glance; passenger service on this route (New London, CT - Worcester, MA) lasted until Amtrak- either 2 or 3 round-trips a day (can't remember which) connecting with the Shore Line express trains at New London. It's also the historic through passenger route between Maine and points south via the NYNH&H/B&M connection at Worcester.

ebtmikado
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by ebtmikado » Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:30 am

From the time that passenger service was restored in 1952 by Bucky Dumaine until the advent of Amtrak in 1971,
the Budd cars made two round trips per day.

Lee Carlson

Noel Weaver
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Noel Weaver » Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:07 pm

Being the location in the extreme north east corner of the state and quite far away from the population centers, this is
probably a waste as was stated earlier.
I do like the idea of a couple of round trips on the Worcester - New London line. A morning trip and an afternoon trip with
decent connections at New London could work quite well and maybe offer a connection for a "T" train to and from Boston as
well.
Incidentally at one time this line did have three round trips for a period of time, I have the timetables to show that but I do
not have time today to check on the exact dates that this service existed. One reason the mid day round trip did not last
was because there was a considerable amount of local freight business on this line at the time and N-1 also left South
Worcester in the afternoon. It was probably a practical decision on the part of the railroad.
Even in the last year of the Hartford - Putnam route, 1955, there were three round trips between Putnam and Worcester
because the New York - Portland train that ran in the summer months seven days a week ran via Hartford, Willimantic,
Putnam and on to Worcester.
Noel Weaver

MikeVT
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by MikeVT » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:32 pm

Could be a good idea. Passenger rail into Providence and/or Hartford may seed residental growth. I know with what my bother pays to live in RI he would give it a look.

kancamagus
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by kancamagus » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:59 pm

I could see re-establishing several rounds trips each day between Worcester and New London, but mostly in the form of "overlapped" service, such as a New Haven<>Worcester service (via New London) and a Boston<>New London service (via Worcester). Both of CT's casinos are located along this line, and if there's through service from major cities that opens up a large market to a large tourist draw.

I wonder if you could even get the casinos on-board, and establish some "casino cars" on each train (each train would have some regular cars, some "casino cars". These cars would be more upscale than your traditional passenger rail car, and would basically have a bar/lounge service, or maybe a sushi-bar kind of restaurant. Maybe even use any revenues from such a service to help subsidize the service.

You could also look at creating special Local Improvement Districts around the stations on the route. These LIDs are all based around the idea of incubating economic growth around stations and using the increased money from increased property taxes raised (by the increase in property values due to existence of commuter rail) to help subsidize the operating costs of said commuter rail. Basically, if a town raised $X in property taxes before commuter rail for all property with a half mile (within a ten minute walk) before the opening of a commuter rail station, but afterwords raised $(X+Y) due to the raise in property values (tax rate stays the same), the $Y amount would go to funding the commuter rail. Such a plan wouldn't cover all operating expenses, but it's ideas like this that can make [re]initiating rail service easier.

porkfriedrice
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by porkfriedrice » Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:18 pm

Ok, I admit that I don't know as much as most of you here. There must be some reason though as to why there hasn't been passenger since it was terminated decades ago. I'm guessing lack of demand. Worcester and New London both have fairly large population centers, but the points in between are lacking. Kancamagus's ideas are intriguing, but the New London- Worcester line doesn't run as close to the casinos as he says. Foxwoods is several miles away at the nearest point, and Mohegan is across the Thames River. Maybe a single station with shuttle bus service to both casinos. The NECR does run right in Mohegan Sun's backyard, though. So I think that if there was passenger service from western Massachusetts to eastern-southeastern Connecticut, the attraction would be to get to the casinos, not general commuters to and from work and such. That is, until Massachusetts decides to build their own casino.

ebtmikado
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by ebtmikado » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:44 pm

When the Shore Line East Riders Association was fighting Connecticut's criminal governor John Rowland's proposal to
kill SLE service, we approached the Mohegans, since the NECR railroad runs in their lawn, a couple hundred feet from their casino. They were not the least bit interested in rail service.

Since then, in my discussions with New London area transit advocates, I've mentioned it a few times, but the
casino owners still do not appear to be in favor of supporting rail service.

The less-than-glowing performance of the ACE gambler trains from New York to Atlantic City makes it seem
that there is not much potential for ridership.

SEAT, the local bus company provides shuttle service from New London to the casinos, connecting with Amtrak. Tickets are available through Amtrak. But patronage is low.

Lee

porkfriedrice
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by porkfriedrice » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:00 pm

Like I said, my knowledge is limited. I guess the point I was making was that when looking at any kind of potential passenger service between western Massachusetts and eastern Connecticut, there would be more demand to travel to/from the casinos than to small towns like Thompson.
ebtmikado wrote:When the Shore Line East Riders Association was fighting Connecticut's criminal governor John Rowland's proposal to
kill SLE service, we approached the Mohegans, since the NECR railroad runs in their lawn, a couple hundred feet from their casino. They were not the least bit interested in rail service.

Since then, in my discussions with New London area transit advocates, I've mentioned it a few times, but the
casino owners still do not appear to be in favor of supporting rail service.

The less-than-glowing performance of the ACE gambler trains from New York to Atlantic City makes it seem
that there is not much potential for ridership.

SEAT, the local bus company provides shuttle service from New London to the casinos, connecting with Amtrak. Tickets are available through Amtrak. But patronage is low.

Lee
And apparently even the casinos may not be popular with for rail travel. So what would the benefit be of opening this line for passenger service?

TomNelligan
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by TomNelligan » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:24 pm

As noted by Mr. Mikado, the local transit authority (SEAT), already provides connecting bus service from Amtrak at New London to the Connecticut casinos. But the vast majority of people who go there by means other than private auto take one of the vast number of charter buses that converge on the casinos every day from numerous points around the region. (My elderly mom is one of the semi-regular riders.) While rail service to Mohegan Sun is possible via the CV/NEC line on the west bank of the Thames, I don't see how that would attract many more people than the buses. Foxwoods requires a bus anyway, since it isn't on a rail line, so you might as well connect at New London.

The New Haven's RDC service on the New London-Worcester line was largely a way for the NH to offer New York-Worcester service after the onetime B&A/NH through cars via Springfield were discontinued. There might still be some market for that, but except for Norwich (which also has bus service to New London), the population along the line is minimal and a restoration of the Bay State via Springfield would probably be more viable in terms of ridership from intermediate points.

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Cosmo
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Cosmo » Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:46 pm

Hey, if it gets those big ol' busses off of Rt's 2, 3, and 12, ....

...I'm ALL FOR it! :-) :wink:
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Jeff Smith
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Jeff Smith » Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:45 am

At one time there was a study by CDOT (hmmmm, that sounds familiar) about restoring service on this line. I've never actually been able to find it through numerous searches, though. I think the CTRRC has mentioned this in its minutes. Anyway, CDOT conveniently left out Worcester, and included only CT locations from New London, so it was a no go. At some point they were supposed to or required to update the study to include Worcester, but I don't know if anything ever came of it.

For my nickel (slot) I would think the local communities would want rail service to the casino's as well, but I see the casino's point of view; there is plenty of direct point-to-point travel supporting the buses, so why get involved? This is ironically one of the areas in CT that would support a busway, as opposed to the boondoggle to Hartford.
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Ridgefielder
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Ridgefielder » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:11 am

I don't think serving the casinos would be a good enough reason to restore passenger service on this line. The only way it makes sense is as link between Worcester and northeastern Connecticut with points south and west via the Shore Line.

To me, the fact that this service was actually reinstated in the early '50s, and lasted up until A-day (right through the New Haven's second bankruptcy and the fall of Penn Central) would argue for it-- like the Berkshire Line-- having the potential to be a viable route. IMHO it's a lot more realistic than some of the things that have been discussed on this forum (for example: commuter trains on the Mountain Division, Boston-Montreal via the Northern and a dozen other routes, absolutely anything that involves the Air Line.)

TomNelligan
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by TomNelligan » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:03 pm

Ridgefielder wrote: To me, the fact that this service was actually reinstated in the early '50s, and lasted up until A-day (right through the New Haven's second bankruptcy and the fall of Penn Central) would argue for it-- like the Berkshire Line-- having the potential to be a viable route.


Just as a historical note, the line did have passenger service until May 1971, but it wasn't exactly overwhelmed with business... two Worcester-New London round trips a day handled by a single RDC. I never saw more than a one-car train on that line.

I do agree that restored passenger service on the line is at least plausible, given that it's in fairly good shape and the Providence & Worcester would be a passenger-friendly host. But the question is how much on-line business there is, keeping in mind that Mohegan Sun is on the wrong side of the Thames River for direct service via the P&W line and Foxwoods has no rail access of any sort.

Noel Weaver
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Noel Weaver » Wed Apr 14, 2010 12:17 pm

Just as a historical note, the New Haven had a through car arrangement with the New York Central in the operation of a few
New York - Boston trains via Springfield and the B & A. When the Worcester - New London Line Budd Car began in 1952 the
NHRR discontinued the operation of through cars between Boston - Springfield - New York. By running service out of
Worcester to New London the New Haven could get all of the passenger revenue out of Worcester without sharing any of it
with the New York Central.
I would love to see a couple of round trips daily on this line and I think they could possibly work:
PROS - A cooperative railroad
Track that is in reasonable condition although some work might be necessary to raise speeds.
The most direct railroad route between Worcester and New York

CONS - There is a decent interstate highway right next to this line for the entire distance.
A bus on the above road could make as good of time as a train could but would lack the comfort of a train.
No matter how much track work is done the lack of automatic signals would still limit the speed that a passenger
train could operate in this territory.
Noel Weaver

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