New London - Worcester Passenger Service

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Ridgefielder
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Ridgefielder » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:19 pm

Slightly off-topic but the latest Trains has a map illustrating long-distance passenger service today, and immediately prior to and after A-day 1971. What struck me from looking at the map is how much more service there is in the New England states today than there was in 1971. Worcester-New London is gone, true, and the remaining summer-weekend-only GCT-Danbury, CT-Pittsfield, MA trips. But, net-net, much has been gained, both in terms of frequency (on the Shore Line) and in terms of entire routes. In 1971, there was no Amtrak service at all north of the Boston & Albany, where today we have the Vermonter, the Ethan Allen, and 5-a-day Boston North - Portland, ME.

And that's just Amtrak: there's also the entire resurrected Old Colony commuter network in southeastern Mass., the Shore Line East local service east of New Haven, and the huge increase in reliability and frequencies on Metro-North in southwestern Connecticut-- including my own hometown Danbury Branch, which probably has more service today than at any time since before the First World War. Outside of southern California, I can't think of any other part of the United States that has seen so much improvement in passenger service since the coming of Amtrak.

Something to bear in mind when we hear people arguing that rail service in New England hasn't been what it should be since they discontinued the Allouette or the Kennebec Limited.

Jeff Smith
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by Jeff Smith » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:31 pm

I did some "googling" and found a few things:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1 ... 54,1003718

That's from The Day. Unfortunately, it's an image, so I can't select text to quote, and I can't seem to find it on The Day web-site. The article was from 2006, and includes a discussion of the 1999 study which excluded Worcester passenger counts.

This from a development proposal circa 2007:

http://www.thamesriverlanding.com/Circu ... tation.htm
The redevelopment will also include the provision of alternate modes of transportation such as providing regional shuttle service to the casinos, Mystic Seaport and many other popular destinations. We propose to establish a water ferry service from our new marina to the pier in Norwich to promote tourism and the commercial growth of the Norwich Harbor District. Along the edge of the site running parallel to the Thames River is an existing and active train track which may be used to expand a commuter rail service for the Providence and Worcester Line. We propose a commuter parking lot for 200 cars and a new inter-modal transit station to be constructed linking vehicular, train and ferry transportation into one hub on the site. The new inter-modal station can also work with the Providence and Worcester Line to revive the passenger rail stations that currently exist in Norwich and Groton. The New London station has recently gone under extensive renovation. This new rail service will provide some relief to the congestion on our local roads and highways.
From 10.13.06 Worcester Business Journal: http://www.wbjournal.com/news39448.html?Type=search
Connecticut looks to connect with Union Station

In a move likely to hearten local rail advocates, the State of Connecticut has earmarked upwards of $2.25 million to study the possibility of linking Worcester’s Union Station and New London, Connecticut through passenger rail service.

Although it’s not the increased Boston-bound service advocates have clamored for over the years, the commitment by the Constitution State shows an interest by parties outside of the Hub to rejuvenate Worcester’s train service.
Next stop, Willoughby
~Jeff Smith (fka "Sarge") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

TomNelligan
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Re: Thompson CT Passenger Rail?!?!

Post by TomNelligan » Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:21 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:Slightly off-topic but the latest Trains has a map illustrating long-distance passenger service today, and immediately prior to and after A-day 1971. What struck me from looking at the map is how much more service there is in the New England states today than there was in 1971.
You are quite correct. While rail freight service in New England is generally a fraction of what it was forty years ago (the Boston & Albany line excepted), with numerous line abandonments and downgradings, both intercity and commuter passenger service are in much better shape overall. The turnaround began with Amtrak's restoration of the Montrealer in 1972.

Jeff Smith
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New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:00 pm

I hate to start a new topic because I know there has been discussion on this already, in different forums (Amtrak, NH, MNRR, and NE) and in different threads. Still, I can't find one that's exactly on point.

What brings this to the fore is this little one-off comment in an article on Willimantic improvements:

http://www.norwichbulletin.com/carousel ... z1ZASzsNSN
But the work doesn’t end there, Courtney said. The region will be applying for grant funding for passenger rail service from New London to Massachusetts, he said.

Read more: Funds for Windham-to-Plainfield rail project applauded - Norwich, CT - The Bulletin http://www.norwichbulletin.com/archive/ ... z1ZAwq16gL
And there was this earlier article (c. 2006) I found in searching: http://www.wbjournal.com/news39448.html?Type=search
10/13/06

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Connecticut looks to connect with Union Station

In a move likely to hearten local rail advocates, the State of Connecticut has earmarked upwards of $2.25 million to study the possibility of linking Worcester’s Union Station and New London, Connecticut through passenger rail service.

Although it’s not the increased Boston-bound service advocates have clamored for over the years, the commitment by the Constitution State shows an interest by parties outside of the Hub to rejuvenate Worcester’s train service.

...

It may be a while before Union Station sees New London-bound trains come or go. The study is not slated to begin until next year and will take at least a year to complete. The goal of the study would be to determine the projected ridership and the cost of installation and upkeep of the line, Trotta says.

If it’s approved, Trotta says, "it’s at least a few years before we could even put a shovel in the ground – perhaps as late as 2010."
:-D 2010? Got a chuckle out of that.

Elsewhere in other threads, it's been mentioned that a single RDC ran this service until A-Day: http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 26&t=78553
TomNelligan wrote:Passenger service between New London and Worcester lasted until the day before Amtrak (April 30. 1971) and consisted of two round trips a day by a solo RDC that connected with Shore Line trains at New London. Intermediate stations included Norwich, Jewett City, Plainfield, Danielson Putnam, Webster, Auburn and I think a couple more... my old timetables are at home and I'll update the list tonight if someone else hasn't. Much earlier, the New Haven RR did indeed run New York-Maine though service over the line.
I've got to go through the minutes on this website: http://www.ct.gov/dot/cwp/view.asp?a=2314&q=260046 but in the meanwhile I'd lke to link it here; it may prove useful.

Any thoughts on the potential for this service?
Next stop, Willoughby
~Jeff Smith (fka "Sarge") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

Station Aficionado
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by Station Aficionado » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:36 pm

Just a little more background. Per the March 1971 OG, the running time both NB and SB was 2:08 for 72 miles. The trains had very tight connections (15 mins. or less) with trains to and from NYP. Mr. Nelligan's list of intermediate stops is, in fact, complete (at least as of March '71). There was one NB and one SB train in the morning, and one each way in the afternoon (there were separate Sunday schedules for the afternoon trains).

In principle, this is the sort of connecting service that Amtrak or SLE should be looking at as add-ons to their NEC service. But is there enough potential ridership? How do the on-line towns compare in population to where they were in 1971? Relatedly, would this be aimed primarily at Worcester riders? Also, what speeds would the trains run at ? Would '71's average (33.8mph by my calculation) be fast enough? Also, Worcester and New London are now connected by I-395 (was that true in '71?). Anyone able to comment on traffic levels/driving time?

In short, I'd say it's a very interesting idea, but we don't have enought information at this point, to offer reasoned judgments on whether the service would be worth the investment.

boatsmate
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by boatsmate » Tue Sep 27, 2011 10:20 pm

Well, speculation on my part, I know that the inland route trains used to carry a number of people, out of Framingham and Worcester and the continued to Springfield and New Haven. that train was shelved a number of years ago in the large service cut backs. There might be enough people that want to connect with amtrak in New London, exspecially is the price is right. beats taking the T to Boston and Amtrak and then to NY. if time and cost are compareable then you will see people taking the train to NL and on to NYP, and save themselves time and money going all the way to Boston.


Capt Bill

Noel Weaver
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by Noel Weaver » Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:53 am

There are a lot more pluses here than in many of the other potential passenger routes that have been discussed on here over the years. Some of them are: reasonable and very direct route, some track rehab would probably be needed but when they do that speeds of 50 MPH would be possible most of the way and maybe they could do even better, a cooperative railroad in the Providence and Worcester, several intermediate stops which were very successful during the NHRR days and could possibly do good even in today's situation. Norwich, Putnam and Webster come to mind and Plainfield and Danielson could also probably be productive as well. I like the idea of a connecting service between Worcester and New London but maybe even better would be two direct trains each way a day all the way from Worcester to New York or beyond.
One slight correction to an earlier post, at least through the New Haven Railroad days the trains to Worcester connected to New York trains to and from Grand Central Terminal at New London although of course this shifted to Penn Station when the Penn Central moved the Boston trains from Grand Central Terminal to Penn Station which took effective September 21, 1970.
Noel Weaver

dcm74
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by dcm74 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 7:50 am

One possible glitch in this idea. Due to post 9/11 paranoia how will DOD and DHS react to passenger trains running through the submarine base in Groton?

djlong
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by djlong » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:12 am

My brother-in-law, until this year, berthed his sailboat in the base marina. Not a lot of paranoia other than the usual checks. Shouldn't be an issue.

TomNelligan
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by TomNelligan » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:48 am

One possible glitch in this idea. Due to post 9/11 paranoia how will DOD and DHS react to passenger trains running through the submarine base in Groton?
The Providence & Worcester runs passenger excursions through there without any issues I'm aware of. These days it's safe to assume that Russia and China have high resolution satelite photos of it anyway.

The EGE
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by The EGE » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:57 am

I highly agree that this is the sort of feeder service that could work well with the NEC: low-startup-cost shuttle service on line where there isn't already commuter service to compete with.

I do see a potential complication this being an active freight line. Not a huge number of trains (a couple a week, maybe?) but platform clearance would be an issue.

I-395 was built as a freeway in 1968 though it didn't get its modern number till the 80s. Population is about the same as in the 70s. There's not a hell of a lot between Norwich and Worcester, so it would perhaps benefit Worcester most.

Between 2 and 95, 395 is murderously crowded. North of 2 it varies between crowded and empty.

Civilians like me see the sub base on occasion; a school bus I once rode went down Shark Blvd right next to the tracks, so I suspect that would not be a huge problem. They're only really worried about water access, because it's a lot harder to stop somebody in a small boat.

boatsmate
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by boatsmate » Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:41 pm

Direct Service to and from New york and Beyond would be great, how ever you face the same problem they face with restoring service to Cape cod,(amtrak) that you would have to electrify the entire line to worcester inoder to do this. same as the cape. the only way it would work is to trade engines in NH to Desiel, and run them the rest of the way. (like the old days before wire) the only other way (other than cross platform transfer which is what they are looking for) would be to put an engine terminal in NL and change engines for the remainder of the trip. to cost prohibitive thats why they did away with it in NH. Cross paltform transfers work well in NH and worked well in Providence when the Cape Codder ran. I think for a start up its the way to go.

As for frieght trains along the line there are only 4 NR2 and NR3, NRWO and WONR the last 2 run at night the others could run around the train schedules like they do on the NEC. I think a stop at or near the Casinos might help also, exspecialy coming up form NL where the ferries come in from NY and could meet the train (they currently use buses to the casinos from the ferry port)


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Noel Weaver
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by Noel Weaver » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:05 pm

In the New Haven Railroad days there were two through freight trains daily in each direction over this line plus locals out of Worcester, Putnam, Plainfield and New London plus the Norwich Switcher. This made for plenty of activity over a single track manual block railroad. We also had extras sometimes which added to the traffic over this route, in my firing days I worked a few of these jobs and they were nice trains to work. This was one busy single track line in the 60's and there is nowhere near the freight on it now so I do not think freight would be a problem.
Noel Weaver

markhb
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by markhb » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:46 pm

I'd think that the casinos might want to add some marketing money to an operation that would bring customers even closer to their doorsteps.

I'm of two minds about this. First, (as has been discussed in the Maine Medium-Long Distance thread), a connection, or even a thru-run, at Worcester between a Maine-based train running the historic I-495 route (Haverhill-Lowell-Ayer-Worcester) and the Worcester-New London route would give Maine a direct connection to the NEC. If it were to happen, I'd actually like to see it as a POR-NLC through route just to keep it a 2-seat ride to NYC.

OTOH, this route would give us three parallel lines in an extremely short E-W span for this day and age: New Haven-Springfield, New London-Worcester, and the NEC to Providence and Boston. Given that (unless a Maine service ties in) this would be the only one of the three without through runs sharing the tracks, I have to wonder if there would be enough ridership to support the subsidies.
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TomNelligan
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Re: New London - Worcester Passenger Service

Post by TomNelligan » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:09 am

I wouldn't get excited about the prospect of lots of casino traffic. First, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods both already have connecting bus service from New London. People who want to reach them from the Northeast Corridor already can. Second, there is no way to run direct rail service to either of them from the P&W line. Mohegan Sun is is on the wrong side of the Thames River to be reached by trains operating on the P&W; you'd have to connect with a bus at New London anyway. Foxwoods is, yep, in the wood, with no nearby rails and again you'd have to connect by bus, and the logical location would be New London. I guess there might be a few people who would come down from Worcester by train and then make the bus connection, but as with the Atlantic City casinos, most folks who don't drive take one of the vast number of charter buses that seem to be run by just about every Elks lodge, senior center, and social club in southern New England.

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