AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Jeff Smith
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Jeff Smith »

I recall seeing posted over in the MNRR/CDOT forum that New London (Groton?) to Worcester was one RDC a day before service ceased in the early 70's. I think if you're looking for an inland NEC, that's the way to go. I think Springfield - BOS (Albany's really only viable for the LSL IMHO i.e. one a day), that's up to Mass. to do. But as an alternative to the NEC, it doesn't make much sense, and doesn't offer anything new.
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TomNelligan
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by TomNelligan »

Mr. Hensley, I certainly have no reason to question your 1962 train count, but by the summer 1964 schedule, Boston-Albany was down to two trains a day, 27/28 and 404/405. (There was one additional RDC trip east of Springfield, plus commuter service east of Worcester.) I should have written "By the mid-1960s..." to be more specific.

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by mtuandrew »

Jeff Smith wrote:I recall seeing posted over in the MNRR/CDOT forum that New London (Groton?) to Worcester was one RDC a day before service ceased in the early 70's. I think if you're looking for an inland NEC, that's the way to go. I think Springfield - BOS (Albany's really only viable for the LSL IMHO i.e. one a day), that's up to Mass. to do. But as an alternative to the NEC, it doesn't make much sense, and doesn't offer anything new.
Why would NYP-New London-Worcester-BOS make any more sense than NYP-New Haven-Springfield-BOS? You miss Springfield and Hartford by going through Worcester, have to use more third-party trackage (rather than the Amtrak-owned Conn River line) and still deal with the numerous draws and curves between New Haven and New London.

The ideal Inland Route would probably be NYP-New Haven-Hartford along existing Metro-North and Amtrak rails, then a cutoff broadly following I-84 to Worcester - that might be about the same distance as the current NEC, with more 150 mph running possible. Good luck getting Rhode Island to sign off, but then again, they would still see a heavy share of traffic along the Shore Line.

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Jeff Smith »

Andrew, you have a point. You would miss Hartford and S'Field. You would get the drawbridges, and track curvature, of the NEC.

However, you'd also miss a CSX single track line not capable of very good speed, at least not past Worcester. Not that the P&W line is any faster (I think it's P&W and not Pan Am or CT So), but it does follow a well-developed corridor currently lacking any service, and, as someone else here pointed out, a more likely to be compliant freight host. Also, keep in mind, CT owns much of the Class III/Short-Line trackage in the state, and licenses out the operation thereof (case in point: HRRC above New Milford). If they don't own it, there's always the carrot-stick approach; we'll fund some track improvements and maintenance if you let us run some pax trains.

As for your route suggestion, I don't have a CDOT map handy; I'm pretty sure there are a few lines that trail along I 84 but are probably land-banked and not active freight or rail banked. I'm not sure what's left of the old inland route north or east of Hartford/New Haven. I think if CT or MA want an alternate bad enough, they could run it along the highway ROW maybe.
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Station Aficionado »

Jeff Smith wrote:I recall seeing posted over in the MNRR/CDOT forum that New London (Groton?) to Worcester was one RDC a day before service ceased in the early 70's. I think if you're looking for an inland NEC, that's the way to go. I think Springfield - BOS (Albany's really only viable for the LSL IMHO i.e. one a day), that's up to Mass. to do. But as an alternative to the NEC, it doesn't make much sense, and doesn't offer anything new.
In Fred Frailey's Twilight of the Great Trains, in the chapter on PC, is a picture of the Worcester-New London RDC.

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Station Aficionado »

TomNelligan wrote:
Station Aficionado wrote: Query, for Mr. Nelligan and the rest of you New Englanders, if additional (or revived) Inland Route (Boston-Springfield-New Haven) service really isn't justified, what about additional Boston-Albany service (to connect with the Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains)? Or would that, too, fall victim to topography, single-tracking, and buses scooting along the Mass Turnpike?
I'm afraid the latter, in my opinion. The B&A through the Berkshires is a twisting and indirect route between Springfield and Albany as it follows river valleys and climbs to the summit at Washington -- if you check a map, you'll see what I mean. The big hill is still double track, but most of the rest is single, and CSX is unlikely to be any more passenger-friendly there than it is anywhere else. And the Massachusetts Turnpike is a relatively straight shot geographically, going up and over the hills rather than around them, and generally a 65-70 mph highway (except at some peak travel times). I would also note that the Albany-Boston travel market itself (as oppose dto the potential westward connecting market) is small since Albany is culturally and economically connected to New York City rather than Boston. Even in the 1960s, it supported only two trains a day (the NYC's New England States plus a local that ran opposite it).

A morning connection other trains at Albany would be nice, but I suspect that a dedicated Thruway bus would be the practical option at the moment.
Thanks, Mr. Nelligan. I looked at the SPV atlas, and followed the twists and turns of the B&A. It is one of those routes that seems like it would be a good passenger corridor, but just isn't, for the reasons you describe.

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Rockingham Racer »

Nothing that some supelevated curves wouldn't cure. The real fun on the B&A begins in Westfield, heading up and down the Berkshires.

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by mtuandrew »

Jeff Smith wrote:Andrew, you have a point. You would miss Hartford and S'Field. You would get the drawbridges, and track curvature, of the NEC.

However, you'd also miss a CSX single track line not capable of very good speed, at least not past Worcester. Not that the P&W line is any faster (I think it's P&W and not Pan Am or CT So), but it does follow a well-developed corridor currently lacking any service, and, as someone else here pointed out, a more likely to be compliant freight host. Also, keep in mind, CT owns much of the Class III/Short-Line trackage in the state, and licenses out the operation thereof (case in point: HRRC above New Milford). If they don't own it, there's always the carrot-stick approach; we'll fund some track improvements and maintenance if you let us run some pax trains.

As for your route suggestion, I don't have a CDOT map handy; I'm pretty sure there are a few lines that trail along I 84 but are probably land-banked and not active freight or rail banked. I'm not sure what's left of the old inland route north or east of Hartford/New Haven. I think if CT or MA want an alternate bad enough, they could run it along the highway ROW maybe.
Being in one-a-day land, I'm not all that sympathetic to an area with 30-odd a day :wink:.

Looking at the B&A on Google Maps... yikes, but it's curvy, and more so than the P&W or the Amtrak Springfield line. It's not as bad from WOR to BOS, but from SPG to WOR it looks to be nearly double the length of the interstate. I still think that routing is a better choice in terms of population, but without major realignment, Amtrak would never be able to run anywhere near as quickly as on the Shore Line. The P&W would be faster, but all you're accomplishing is to bypass Rhode Island in favor of small towns in Connecticut and a city in Massachusetts that already has commuter service.

There isn't a route that directly parallels I-84, but the old Air Line from Middletown to Putnam (connecting via active rail to New Haven and Worcester on either end) is railbanked and could theoretically be reactivated. It's not ideal at all though, missing all major cities between New Haven and Worcester and only hitting Middletown, Willimantic and Thompson, small cities at best. That's why I suggested using the I-84 right-of-way, specifically from East Hartford to the intersection with I-90, then along I-90 to a point about a mile west of I-290 where it could rejoin the B&A. Eh, if it were a fantasy world, that would be only a small dream, but in this world it's a big sum of money.

Connecticut rail map, with owners, operators (freight and rail) and railbanked segments: http://www.ct.gov/dot/lib/dot/documents ... ils2x3.pdf

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Noel Weaver »

Worcester could be adequately served by a couple of round trips between Worcester and New London with connections there
for New York and beyond. I don't know whether a move east from New London to Groton to turn the equipment would be
acceptable being that it is cab signal territory mandated by the federal government or not. If it is not possible a crew with
an engine would have to be stationed at New London to accomplish this or they would have to use push/pull equipment
neither of which would be impossible. At least on this route you have a railroad that I think would be very cooperative with
such service. Probably intermediate stations at Norwich, Danielson, Putnam and Webster would contribute to this as well.
I agree that CSX doesn't want any more passenger trains on the B & A unless a second track is put in at someone else's
expense and not their's.
Incidentally the topic of New York - Portland, Maine through service has come up from time to time and I have always
advocated a daylight through train by the way of Worcester. Some track upgrading north of Worcester and this could become a reality. This could make one good departure out of Worcester right through to New York. Maybe another
through train would work just as well as to try to run a shuttle between Worcester and New London. Probably the big issue
here is congestion west of New Haven.
Noel Weaver

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by CSX Conductor »

Speaking of Putnam,CT..... I stumbled upon the station there a few weeks ago. It's still in great shape, although mostly stores now.

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Station Aficionado »

Noel Weaver wrote:Incidentally the topic of New York - Portland, Maine through service has come up from time to time and I have always advocated a daylight through train by the way of Worcester. Some track upgrading north of Worcester and this could become a reality. This could make one good departure out of Worcester right through to New York. Maybe another through train would work just as well as to try to run a shuttle between Worcester and New London. Probably the big issue here is congestion west of New Haven.
It seems to me I recall some mention recently on the Downeaster thread that the authority that runs/sponsors the Downeaster has begun to think about a direct connection to NYC that bypasses Boston.

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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Gilbert B Norman »

Mr. Weaver, is the State of Maine, East Wind, Bar Harbor route, namely Worcester to Lowell on the New Haven in any semblance of "intact' today?

Obviously the P&W between its namesake cities is, as is apparently the N&W (I once rode a Camp Special circa 1952 over such).

TomNelligan
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by TomNelligan »

The B&M Worcester-Ayer-Lowell-Lowell Junction route of the State of Maine is entirely intact, but exists as low speed freight trackage that would need a lot of work to support passenger service.

Greg Moore
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Greg Moore »

Think Network folks. Yeah, I doubt the Inland Route will ever see service anything like the current NEC.

And as for ALB-BOS, as much as I'd love to see more trains there, until you can get running time down a LOT (it's almost faster to go to NYC and then up the NEC on the Acela ;-) the most you'd probably see is 1 more train there.

But what I'd like to eventually see is a train or two up the old Housatonic line to Pittsfield. Either tie into a new ALB-BOS train or then hang a left and head towards Albany. But I think you're better off adding two separate trains and basically increasing the network a bit. Any one train by itself only does so much, adding multiple trains that can be linked to each other is a network and is more likely to do more.
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by jbvb »

I rode the Mass-sponsored Inland Route service home to Boston once, just for variety. It doesn't make it as a through route, it was an hour longer than the Shore Line even when the B&A double track was still intact, and from what I recall of old timetables, that's pretty much all the alignment is good for. In a rational network, the markets that it serves are Worcester - Connecticut/NY points and Boston - Springfield. You'd get more traffic if it was fed by a Worcester - Haverhill route. For Boston - Hartford the Shore Line is probably competitive given a decent connection in New Haven. But reasonable network service hinges on reliable, across-the-platform 10 minute connections, something we haven't remembered yet.

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