AMTRAK NEC: Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Valley Flyer

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

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DutchRailnut
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by DutchRailnut »

there is no "must be" untill CSX agrees and Massachuts pays for more track.
Amtrak currently has no plans to increase service via inland route.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Dick H
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Dick H »

Had the Boston and Maine been folded into the bankrupt eastern
railroads, it would have been a possibility of the west end of the
railroad beyond East Deerfield would have been abandoned and
east-west traffic shifted to the Boston & Albany line. Had this
happened, maybe most, if not all, of the double track would have
been retained.

At any rate, the B&A would be really hard pressed to handle the
traffic moving over the PAS today, along with their own traffic.
If the Green Mountain Gateway (VRS-NECR-PW) route did not
exist, much of that traffic would be moving on the B&A, also,
including all the recent increase in ethanol trains...

jstolberg
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by jstolberg »

DutchRailnut wrote:there is no "must be" untill CSX agrees and Massachuts pays for more track.
Amtrak currently has no plans to increase service via inland route.
Amtrak is already planning on increasing the length of the Acela consists. That is the quicker and cheaper option.

afiggatt
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by afiggatt »

jstolberg wrote:
Coastal regulations designed to protect the fishing and boating industries by limiting movable bridge openings do not permit more frequent daytime service than is provided today. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection also limits Amtrak to 39 trains per weekday.
Since frequencies cannot be increased along the coast route between Boston and New Haven, any increases in capacity must be by either lengthening trains and/or adding frequency to the inland route.
Your quote left off some relevant text. The more complete quote from the NEC master plan report: "Coastal regulations designed to protect the fishing and boating industries by limiting movable bridge openings do not permit more frequent daytime service than is provided today. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection also limits Amtrak to 39 trains per weekday. An analysis must be conducted to pursue waivers needed to provide additional intercity and commuter frequencies; preliminary discussions are underway with the US Coast Guard. Replacement of the Niantic and Connecticut River bridges over the next five years will pose significant challenges to maintaining continuity of operations." So Amtrak is looking to increase the limit of 39 trains per day, if they can persuade the Connecticut coastal fleet and the Coast Guard.

The Niantic river bridge is being replaced with a bridge with a higher and wider clearance. Stated elsewhere in the report, the design study for the Connecticut River bridge replacement is looking at the feasibility of a high level bridge which won't have to be open as often. The question I have if anyone knows is whether any specific one of the movable bridges on the Shoreline route is the primary reason for the 39 tpd restriction or is it a number that is result of a compromise for all the bridges?

afiggatt
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by afiggatt »

DutchRailnut wrote:there is no "must be" untill CSX agrees and Massachuts pays for more track.
Amtrak currently has no plans to increase service via inland route.
Again, quoting from the NEC Infrastructure master plan for what it is worth: "Amtrak’s 2030 plans call for increases in service between Boston and New York, from 38 daily trains (19 round trips) to 48 trains (24 daily round trips), providing hourly Acela Express and near hourly Regional services throughout the day. Five additional trains are projected to operate out of Boston over the “Inland Route” through Worcester to Springfield and New Haven. Amtrak is also planning up to 30 minutes of trip‐time improvements between Boston and New York by 2030 which will benefit from proposed additional passing capability on this segment to maintain existing levels of reliability for all users."

Of course, these are very long term plans, so they are hardly solid plans and subject to changes in management, the whims of funding and ever changing winds of political support.

DutchRailnut
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by DutchRailnut »

planning and projecting is all nice, its just that Amtrak has no clue what they are doing next year never mind 2030
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

Retired Triebfahrzeugführer. I am not a moderator.

Noel Weaver
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Noel Weaver »

Several points here but I am going to refer to them all at once.
At one time the New Haven Railroad had well over 39 trains a day over the Shore Line and I doubt if any Federal limit exists
here. Connecticut may think they have a right to regulate this but I doubt if they do either, Amtrak may not want to fight
with Connecticut over this but if they did, I think they would prevail. I don't know just what kind of agreements were drawn
up when they put the wires up so that might change things a little bit.
Yes the passenger traffic is way up but this line at one time had hourly or better service all day long and a large number of
passenger plus several mail and express trains at night. It also was a major through freight route to all of New England with
many departures a day east in and out of Cedar Hill. I am sure that I can produce proof by timetables of way more than 39
trains a day in years past and this was with smoky and noisy steam locomotives as well as ancient diesels too.
I think the railroad is a pretty darn good neighbor when it comes to Coastal Connecticut.
As for the Boston and Maine vs the Boston and Albany, I don't think it was ever considered to abandon the B & M route. It
has as good connections west as the B & A has, much easier grades, they can move an equal amount of tonnage with less
horsepower and less fuel and it has better connections to Northern New England than the B & A has. I agree that the B & A
has better connections to the south but there is far more east/west freight than north/south freight in the northeast.
The B & M has good direct connections to the CP (former D & H) and to CSX (former NYC) for westbound traffic. Southbound
traffic likely goes via Hagerstown today and they also have a good connection to that route as well.
Noel Weaver
Last edited by Noel Weaver on Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

QB 52.32
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by QB 52.32 »

There's no doubt that the B&A lost capacity when it was single-tracked. But, traffic density has been well within the capabilities of post-WWII traffic control systems to reasonably handle the requirements on a single-tracked railroad with well-spaced, long sections of 40/50 mph second track. As a matter of fact, the NYC wanted to single track the B&A back in the 1950's, but capital constraints and economic payback versus other projects didn't allow it until finally Conrail took the project on once they were starting to make good money and the signal system needed replacement. I don't recall that B&A speeds were raised as a result of this project, but the computer simulation-generated configuration of single/double track, CTC, bi-directional signalling, and 45-mph turnouts helped to keep things moving to offset some degree of the increase in train dwell time resulting from the single-tracking, and especially with the flexibility it afforded during times of maintenance or for allowing faster trains to pass slower trains. In any case, as has been mentioned, whether/to what degree CSX would agree to increased passenger traffic on the B&A and whether they would require additional double track (triple between CP-60 and CP-64) has much to do with the direction and time slot of the proposed passenger trains, especially how it would mesh with its intermodal traffic.

Since Amtrak's creation, there have been 2 eras of inland route service, both funded by the Commonwealth of MA, if I remember correctly. The first was a roundtrip service in the mid-70's that was discontinued when state support ended. The second, with 2 roundtrips/day, ended in the early 2000's, as I understand it, at CSX's behest because of capacity and/or interference issues. While both inland route services included a westbound morning schedule running against eastbound intermodal traffic, especially with the high-volume, tightly-scheduled UPS traffic out of Chicago/gateway into New England with service commitments, since single-tracking this provided interference. In the same vain, passenger service scheduled to arrive eastbound into Boston during the evening ran against westbound intermodal service.

In terms of the capabilities of the B&A vs. the B&M, modern operating and contemporary traffic growth capabilities have tilted the scales in favor of the B&A. Modern locomotive technology has/will continue to narrow the gap in issues of grades and profiles, and the necessary characteristic to support the boom in rail traffic forecast during the forseeable future, the ability to clear overhead clearances to 20'6"+, gives the B&A an edge. While the B&A is already being cleared to 20'6"+ (for ~ $50m.), capable of handling domestic containers doublestacked, the B&M is hamstrung by the economic (possibly technical) barrier of clearing the 1880's era, 5-mile Hoosac Tunnel (which alone could be 2 or 3 times the cost of doing the entire B&A to Worcester) to accomodate the doublestack configuration that allows for this growing traffic converted from over-the-road trucking with high economic returns.

How additional passenger service would mesh with CSX's important New England intermodal franchise, with its existing high-revenue, high-volume premium traffic, and for which they're spending/receiving negotiated benefits of a ~ $150 million investment in the B&A to double intermodal volume capacity to handle new traffic , IMHO, would inform their position with any proposed increase in passenger trains west of Worcester.

Arlington
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Arlington »

With the success of Amtrak's two new NEC extensions in 2012 (Freeport/Brunswick ME and Petersburg/Norfolk VA), it strikes me its time to revive this thread (and talk seriously about getting more Inland service sooner).

There are many reasons to believe that BOS-SPG service would run an operational surplus.

1) The line is shorter and denser than any Amtrak Virginia corridor, and the DE. In just 1hour it touches 800k people in Worcester County and an hour beyond that touches the 500,000 of Hampden County (SPG)...in 2:15, the LSL touches about the same (or more) people as the DE touches in its 2:30 trip from BON to POR.
2) There are more "in-state" reasons to travel (education and government).
3) THere are denser, more natural tags than Brunswick to add beyond SPG: BOS-SPG-HFD-HVN-NYP, on the one hand, and BOS-SPG-Conn River (which probably adds more college kids than the Downeaster touches. UMass Amherst alone enrolls 24,000, vs UNH's 15,000)
4) It might take only 2 round trips additional per day that could be done with a single train set (keeping costs much lower than the Downeaster's 5r/t by 3 trainsets). Today's single Lake Shore Limited would probably benefit from the addition of two more trains to make a "morning-noon-night" pattern of service from South Station, just as the Crescent and Cardinal have actually benefited from new Amtrak Virginia. A simple 3-per-day pattern of service in each direction on BOS-SPG can attract business travelers and also free up premium sleeper space on the long distance train.

The LSL is in many ways an utterly wrong train for BOS-SPG...Amtrak's incentive is to sell bigger-ticket trips to farther places and therefore to actually discourage in-state ridership. Draining in-state traffic off the Cresent has allowed the Crescent to *raise* in-state prices and its average revenues have gone up as "cheap" traffic took the LYH-NEC train, but business travel was stimulated by the complementary nature of the multiple trains better pattern of service.

Even better, where LYH and POR are "one ended" routes dangling out in the middle of nowhere (apologies to BRK and LYH), the Inland route has seriously big metro areas at almost any endpoint you chose (as close as HFD and BOS, and even better, of course, if you can get to HVN and NYC).

The success of Lynchburg's 1 LD + 1 NEC train per day (which produces a surplus of $3m over its $8m in operating costs) says that inexpensive, low-frequency service can be a money maker. I'd say the Downeaster loses money only because 5x is more service than is needed (good politics, good for utilization when there were only 2 trainsets, but ultimately more service than the market can profitably support). If you could magically transform the DE into a 3x daily extension of a BOS-NEC train, it would spin money and nobody would complain about the missing 2x r/ts--but that's exactly what you can do BOS-SPG.

EDIT: and here's a note on fares: The Downeaster charges $20 o/w BON-POR, while the LSL wants $41 BOS-SPG, both trips of about 2:30 from BOS. I don't "blame" the LSL because it *is* a premium train and what it really wants is passengers willing to fill seats to farther places at higher fares--they can't afford to sell out the train BOS-SPG because it would displace "better" customers going on longer trips. But you also see that there's likely latent demand in the in-state market that would be happy to pay $25 or $30 for BOS-SPG and such a fare at 25% to 50% higher fare than the DE on a per-mile basis would probably turn an operating profit. I'd love to see PRIIA cause equipment to be diverted from some money-losing route elsewhere to this potential money-maker.
Last edited by Arlington on Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Greg Moore
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Greg Moore »

Not a bad idea.

Personally I'd like to see another BOS-ALB train, but it would hardly be competitive. But I wonder if one could make it work, especially since the eastern segment probably could do pretty well.

I know for a fact if there were a reliable early morning ALB-BOS train, I'd take it. The LSL just is too late and too unreliable for me.

But alas... more equipment is needed!
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Noel Weaver
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Noel Weaver »

"Not a bad idea", maybe but maybe not. First off in order for anything to happen here the State of Massachusetts would have to come up with a lot of money not only for the train but for track upgrades as well. Money would be far better spent for track improvements out of Worcester to either Providence or Groton to provide for train service to New York. As for Boston - Springfield not now, not in the near future and probably not in the distant future either without a lot of state support from a state that does not have the money for support. Even if the state came up with the money I think this would not be a good use of such money.
Noel Weaver

Arlington
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Arlington »

Why would this take a lot of money for track? I'm proposing, at most, 2 additional r/t per day (and if the host railroad cuts me back to 1 r/t its still a 100% increase in service). I think you're going to spend a *lot* more on WOR-PVD or WOR-NLC because it has been ages since they've had passenger service and they have the added complication of needing inter-state cooperation and 3 years of planning and EIS study, whereas BOS-SPG actually has all you need right now.

The MBTA may be over-committed, but the State is in better shape and the Western part of the state is probably in a good position to horse-trade for dollars for the Inland Route, especially if Mass hikes the gas tax to pay for big-ticket items in the Eastern (MBTA) part of the state like the Green Line Extension and South Coast Fail.

As for train, I do seriously expect PRIIA to cause equipment to be reallocated from operational-losers elsewhere in the Amtrak non-LD/NEC-capable system. Somewhere there is a state that has more "state-supported" service than that state will support now that operating costs are fairly charged and capital-replacement-costs are soon to be charged.

And then for operating support, I don't see a need for much or any given the performance of all NEC trains (showing operating profits) and closely-analogous Amtrak Virginia trains (more profitable than regular NEC) and the special case of DE's high fairbox recovery (it is an operational loser, true, but would make money if you could operate it with 1 trainset)
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

ThirdRail7
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by ThirdRail7 »

Arlington wrote:Why would this take a lot of money for track? I'm proposing, at most, 2 additional r/t per day (and if the host railroad cuts me back to 1 r/t its still a 100% increase in service). I think you're going to spend a *lot* more on WOR-PVD or WOR-NLC because it has been ages since they've had passenger service and they have the added complication of needing inter-state cooperation and 3 years of planning and EIS study, whereas BOS-SPG actually has all you need right now.
Mr Arlington:

I appreciate your enthusiasm. At this point, I need to ask: Have you taken a good look at the hurdles CSX tends to erect in front of passenger trains? The B&A is a long, mountainous route that you'd need capacity increases for additional service. CSX made it clear...years ago.

Granted, WOR was a major player on the inland route, but WOR-BOS is served by the MBTA. Is it really worth the swinging the set on a 6 hour tour from NYP-BOS, hoping to recapture the WOR college market? This is something you do when you're flush with equipment. It is not something you do when you're short handed.

I suggest there are better uses for equipment. The MBTA should stretch their territory to SPG. At this point, WOR and the intermediate cities connect to the corridor at two locations.
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Arlington
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Arlington »

ThirdRail7 wrote:I appreciate your enthusiasm. At this point, I need to ask: Have you taken a good look at the hurdles CSX tends to erect in front of passenger trains? The B&A is a long, mountainous route that you'd need capacity increases for additional service. CSX made it clear...years ago.

Granted, WOR was a major player on the inland route, but WOR-BOS is served by the MBTA. Is it really worth the swinging the set on a 6 hour tour from NYP-BOS, hoping to recapture the WOR college market? This is something you do when you're flush with equipment. It is not something you do when you're short handed.

I suggest there are better uses for equipment. The MBTA should stretch their territory to SPG. At this point, WOR and the intermediate cities connect to the corridor at two locations.
Sorry I wasn't paying attention years ago ;-) What does CSX want? "Inland Route Improvements" are on the official HSR plan (admittedly, so are a lot of other crazy ideas like Boston-Montreal via Auburn ME). WOR is fairly comparable to PVD (WOR has higher employment, similar population, and 50% to 100% same Gross Metro Product depending on how you treat Fall River MA) but has shockingly fewer transportation options (having only charter air service--call it 2% the size of PVD's air service-- and maybe 5% of its rail) that there's got to be a fairly large untapped market that the MBTA can't fill. Even if the MBTA commuter service on BOS-WOR gets "filled out" to BOS-PVD levels consider that BOS-PVD still has both Acela and Regional on top of that.
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn

Noel Weaver
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Re: NEC Inland Route

Post by Noel Weaver »

I like trains as much as anybody on here and I have ridden them all over New England in years past. I would love to see more passenger trains all throughout New England BUT it just isn't practical in most cases. The population just can't support trains because there isn't enough of it. Yes you could have more trains with dedicated state support, a cooperative railroad that does not have major operating or traffic problems and a decent potential for people outside the area to use such trains. I don't think one or two trains a day between Boston and Springfield makes any sense at all. Peter Pan runs frequent and fast service between these points and in this case it works far better than another passenger train would.
Noel Weaver

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