What if H&M ran to GCT?

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hrfcarl
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What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by hrfcarl » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:20 am

Reading about the Hudson & Manhattan on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_%26 ... n_Railroad), there was mention of plans to tunnel up to GCT. I was wonder what would have happened if the uptown tunnel had been built to GCT instead of 33rd Street with the ability to run commuter/LD trains? Could NYC, NH and others have partnered/mergered to run trains from points south thru GCT (station if thru traffic?) to points north and NE? Could they have done this despite PRR interference/takeovers? If this connection was built, how would rail traffic thru NYC be effected today?

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by Otto Vondrak » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:39 am

hrfcarl wrote:I was wonder what would have happened if the uptown tunnel had been built to GCT instead of 33rd Street with the ability to run commuter/LD trains?
The H&M tunnels were never designed to accommodate full-size passenger trains, only 50-foot rapid transit cars, so I don't see how this would be possible in any scenario.
Could NYC, NH and others have partnered/mergered to run trains from points south thru GCT (station if thru traffic?) to points north and NE?
Could they? Who knows. But why would they?
Could they have done this despite PRR interference/takeovers?
Doubtful the NYC and PRR would set up any through routes. The PRR took over the H&M specifically to keep the Hudson Tubes out of the hands of potential competitors-- there was only going to be one company tunneling under the Hudson River, and that was going to be the Pennsy, thank you very much. The New Haven was the non-competitive neutral party with service to both facilities. The Pennsylvania was already investigating their link to New England with the New Haven via the Long Island and the New York Connecting project (Hell Gate).
If this connection was built, how would rail traffic thru NYC be effected today?
We'd be riding PATH trains from Grand Central and it would be a lot easier to get across town to Penn Station. That's about it...

You obviously have some opinions about this, so what do you think?
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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by UpperHarlemLine4ever » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:54 am

Although possibly not thought of at the time, would it not have been possible to eventually have had a physical connection to the IRT? The IRT and H&M cars were almost the same dimensions so operating on each other's railroad would probably not have been a problem. AND at that time you would not have had the issue of a "railroad" not being connected to a subway. It wasn't until the 1980's that all physical connections with the NYC Transit system and the national railroad network were severed (180th St to NH and BMT Canarsie Line connection to NY Connecting Railroad). But then again, the line was never built to GCT, so we could go what if from now until the end of time.

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by hrfcarl » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:48 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote:The H&M tunnels were never designed to accommodate full-size passenger trains, only 50-foot rapid transit cars, so I don't see how this would be possible in any scenario.?
That was the fact I was unsure of. So in order for this idea to be of any use, the other RR(s) would have had to join the project in plan/design phase so tunnels able to accommodate full size passenger trains would be built. Instead of the current tunnel up to 33rd St, with no PRR involvement, I was thinking more of the planned tunnel to Astor Pl then turning uptown next to/under the IRT tunnel to the lower level of GCT (break out of which mentioned in one of the NJT tunnel alternatives), probably no stations. The southern tubes would still have a station where Hudson Terminal was built, then connect to the uptown tunnels to GCT. Where the 2 tunnels meet and up to GCT should probably be 3-4 tracks wide.
Otto Vondrak wrote:
Could NYC, NH and others have partnered/mergered to run trains from points south thru GCT (station if thru traffic?) to points north and NE?
Could they? Who knows. But why would they?
Could they have done this despite PRR interference/takeovers?
Doubtful the NYC and PRR would set up any through routes. The PRR took over the H&M specifically to keep the Hudson Tubes out of the hands of potential competitors-- there was only going to be one company tunneling under the Hudson River, and that was going to be the Pennsy, thank you very much. The New Haven was the non-competitive neutral party with service to both facilities. The Pennsylvania was already investigating their link to New England with the New Haven via the Long Island and the New York Connecting project (Hell Gate).

You obviously have some opinions about this, so what do you think?
On Wiki and another site (http://www.hudsoncity.net/tubesenglish/), I did not see mention of PRR funding construction (management afterward) so thought there might be a chance for other RR(s) to compete against PRR. If true about the funding, these tunnels seemed to be best bet. With its West Side & High Line and GCT & routes out of northern Manhattan, I am suprised that NYC was not interested in these tunnels. I was figuring mergers/partnerships would have been the only way to attempt warding off PRR takeovers. Say a H&M, B&O and NYC merger/partnership.

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by Otto Vondrak » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:59 pm

UpperHarlemLine4ever wrote:Although possibly not thought of at the time, would it not have been possible to eventually have had a physical connection to the IRT? The IRT and H&M cars were almost the same dimensions so operating on each other's railroad would probably not have been a problem. AND at that time you would not have had the issue of a "railroad" not being connected to a subway. It wasn't until the 1980's that all physical connections with the NYC Transit system and the national railroad network were severed (180th St to NH and BMT Canarsie Line connection to NY Connecting Railroad). But then again, the line was never built to GCT, so we could go what if from now until the end of time.
H&M/PATH are technically railroads that fall under FRA guidelines. It's just a railroad that happens to only offer electric rapid transit service. The issue of connecting "rapid transit" to "railroads" has only surfaced in the last generation or so, as you pointed out.

I don't think IRT dimensions and H&M dimensions are compatible, so I'm not sure that the IRT could send their trains into the H&M tubes. Also, let's not forget, when H&M was under construction, IRT was a competing, for-profit company. I don't see much chance of cooperation between McAdoo and Belmont.

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by Otto Vondrak » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:12 pm

hrfcarl wrote:That was the fact I was unsure of. So in order for this idea to be of any use, the other RR(s) would have had to join the project in plan/design phase so tunnels able to accommodate full size passenger trains would be built.
I don't see what stake the NYC or the NH would have in a project like that, therefore it would be very unlikely they would want to join in.
On Wiki and another site (http://www.hudsoncity.net/tubesenglish/), I did not see mention of PRR funding construction (management afterward) so thought there might be a chance for other RR(s) to compete against PRR.
There's an old saying: "You Can't Fight City Hall. Or The Pennsy." The New York Central (and its predecessors) served New York City since 1831. The Pennsylvania Railroad didn't show up until Penn Station opened in 1910. In order to do so, they had to build very expensive tunnels under the Hudson. Only the PRR had enough capital to try it. The other railroads like LV, CNJ, RDG, B&O, Erie and DL&W were satisfied with their waterfront terminals and ferry connections to Manhattan, and none of them had enough capital to attempt a project like tunneling. The NYC had no interest in going under the Hudson... at least not enough to go after a rapid transit project like the H&M. The Pennsy felt threatened by the H&M because their own tunnels were so close by, they were afraid of potential competition, so they brought them into the fold.
I was figuring mergers/partnerships would have been the only way to attempt warding off PRR takeovers. Say a H&M, B&O and NYC merger/partnership.
On what basis? They knew in 1908 and PRR/NYC merger wouldn't work any better that it would have in 1968. By the turn of the 20th century, both the PRR and the NYC had established their markets, and gone were the robber baron days of building parallel "nuisance" railroads and trying to get into each other's hair. And the B&O already had their own electric train set - it was called Staten Island Rapid Transit. Leave it to the B&O to establish their New York beachhead on the most inconvenient and forgotten part of the city. You said it youself- NYC already had the direct route to New York City. It was every other railroad in America that was trying to get in. PRR needed the H&M. NYC did not. The GCT terminal would have been nice, but once the H&M fell under control of PRR, that put the end to any projected extensions.

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hrfcarl
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If H&M ran to GCT as railroad?

Post by hrfcarl » Thu Apr 09, 2009 8:49 pm

Otto Vondrak wrote: By the turn of the 20th century, both the PRR and the NYC had established their markets, and gone were the robber baron days of building parallel "nuisance" railroads and trying to get into each other's hair.
Otto Vondrak wrote: The New York Central (and its predecessors) served New York City since 1831. The Pennsylvania Railroad didn't show up until Penn Station opened in 1910. In order to do so, they had to build very expensive tunnels under the Hudson. Only the PRR had enough capital to try it. The other railroads like LV, CNJ, RDG, B&O, Erie and DL&W were satisfied with their waterfront terminals and ferry connections to Manhattan, and none of them had enough capital to attempt a project like tunneling. The NYC had no interest in going under the Hudson... at least not enough to go after a rapid transit project like the H&M. The Pennsy felt threatened by the H&M because their own tunnels were so close by, they were afraid of potential competition, so they brought them into the fold.
As PRR was about to enter their turf, one would think NYC should have been interested in a trans Hudson route. Again, the 2 sources I linked do not mention PRR capital going into the H&M tunnels. If the funding for these tunnels and access tubes were secured without PRR capital, what would have prevented H&M from partnering/merging with NYC to route to already established GCT and CHANGING the project from rapid transit to full passenger? H&M had capital for trans Hudson build, NYC had established service in Manhattan. I mentioned partnering/merging with additional RR(s) to secure additional routes to points like Wash DC and Boston if NYC did not have such routes already.
Otto Vondrak wrote:There's an old saying: "You Can't Fight City Hall. Or The Pennsy."
WHAT IF H&M & NYC + other RR(s) DID partner/merge to build these 4 RAILROAD PASSENGER train tunnels, 2 with station where Hudson Terminal built (serving Wall Street & lower Manhattan) and 2 bye pass with all 4 tracks entering break out of GCT lower level project, what would PRR have done? Bought out this partnership/merged entity? If PRR could not stop before construction completed, how would they have changed their trans Hudson/East River plans? Effect on LIRR and Hell Gate?

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by Terry Kennedy » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:23 am

Otto Vondrak wrote:The H&M tunnels were never designed to accommodate full-size passenger trains, only 50-foot rapid transit cars, so I don't see how this would be possible in any scenario.
Technically true for the tunnels that were started or completed by the H&M. The original 1874 design and construction was for full-size steam-powered freight. The work done after the project was taken over by the English engineers was an intermediate size.

If you look out the front of the train during the run from Christopher St. to New Jersey, you can see the tunnel getting larger in steps (particularly obvious if you're looking at the ceiling). By the time you see the illuminated "15th Street Shaft" sign on the left, it is full-size, but steps down to H&M size right after.
I don't think IRT dimensions and H&M dimensions are compatible, so I'm not sure that the IRT could send their trains into the H&M tubes. Also, let's not forget, when H&M was under construction, IRT was a competing, for-profit company. I don't see much chance of cooperation between McAdoo and Belmont.
The dimensions are similar. There would probably be some clearance issues fitting IRT cars into the PATH tunnels, though the reverse should work (H&M flat-sided cars, not PA-series cars). There were similar clearance issues when the PA-1 cars came to the property - pieces of the side bench needed to be chipped out in spots, and the unidirectional crossover west of 9th Street was taken out as the PA-series cars couldn't clear it. Interestingly, not all of the clearance issues have been resolved, even to this day. If a train of PA-series cars operating in single-track mode comes into Grove St. from the east, on the south (normally eastbound) track and crosses over to the normal track west of the station, operating at the maximum speed permitted by the signalling, it stands a pretty good chance of scraping the center wall. I've been in a car when that happened - it was quite surprising.

A bigger issue is that the trip arms are on opposite sides on the IRT and H&M/PATH. That means that unless the lead cars (which means both ends, as there were no loops in the midtown service) were fitted with dual trip arms (as some NYC Subway work cars are), you could get a car-length into a protected block before being tripped.

It should be possible to create a special "joint service" car, possibly fiddling with the distance from the trucks to the end of the car, and installing dual trips.

And the H&M / IRT got along better than you would think - each leased space to the other at Christopher Street (IRT 9th Avenue Elevated), and the un-completed H&M Astor Place spur would have come out in an IRT station (though not sharing tracks).

* Semi-related clearance trivia - the tracks around the Morton St. curves (particularly eastbound) are exceptionally low in the invert. False 3rd rail was installed to keep the shoes from flapping against the side of the tunnel and arcing. You can tell the false 3rd rail because there's no cover (it is actually wood boards that are very shiny from rubbing against the car shoes). Correcting this by adding more gravel to raise the rails was considered in the early 1960's, but rejected as service would need to be suspended (or at least curtailed to overnight levels) for an extended period while the work was being done. This is what caused the bowed-out sides of the PA-series cars to have clearance issues in that part of the system - the bowed-out part was supposed to be above the height of the side bench, but this lowered it to the point there were clearance problems. You can see a lot of spots there where the top edge of the bench was chipped away to maintain clearance.

* Semi-related Astor Place spur trivia - the original ring segment erecting machine is at the end of the eastbound Astor Place spur. You can't see it because there's a lot of power / signal equipment cases blocking the view, the rest of the tunnel isn't lit, and it is somewhat far down the tunnel.

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Re: If H&M ran to GCT as railroad?

Post by Otto Vondrak » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:41 am

hrfcarl wrote:As PRR was about to enter their turf, one would think NYC should have been interested in a trans Hudson route.
If the Central wanted their own trans-Hudson tunnel, they would have gone after H&M or built their own. The fact of the matter is that they had no interest, it wouldn't have enhanced their market, which is why they didn't. They also had their hands full with the Grand Central Terminal project.
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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by Otto Vondrak » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:45 am

Terry Kennedy wrote:...The dimensions are similar. There would probably be some clearance issues fitting IRT cars into the PATH tunnels, though the reverse should work (H&M flat-sided cars, not PA-series cars)... And the H&M / IRT got along better than you would think - each leased space to the other at Christopher Street (IRT 9th Avenue Elevated), and the un-completed H&M Astor Place spur would have come out in an IRT station (though not sharing tracks)...
Thanks for explaining the IRT/H&M relationship. See? I don't know everything. Like this Astor Place spur you speak of.

If there were going to be any partnerships with the H&M, I would think it would be a rapid transit partnership, i.e. tie into the IRT, versus creating a "Union Belt Railroad" for the NYC, NH, and PRR.

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by CarterB » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:45 am

Was there not a plan by the Erie to run parallel to H&M, or their own tunnels into downtown Manhattan for passenger/baggage/express traffic on standard rail? Wasn't the 'new' GCT built with a level for the H&M extension? Were any of the station access points ever built in anticipation of same?
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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by Terry Kennedy » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:18 am

CarterB wrote:Was there not a plan by the Erie to run parallel to H&M, or their own tunnels into downtown Manhattan for passenger/baggage/express traffic on standard rail?
Not that I know of.
Wasn't the 'new' GCT built with a level for the H&M extension? Were any of the station access points ever built in anticipation of same?
That was the plan:

Image

AFAIK, none of this was ever built. Here's how the old 33rd St. station would have been converted from a terminal to a thru station:

Image

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by OportRailfan » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:37 am

Terry Kennedy wrote: * Semi-related Astor Place spur trivia - the original ring segment erecting machine is at the end of the eastbound Astor Place spur. You can't see it because there's a lot of power / signal equipment cases blocking the view, the rest of the tunnel isn't lit, and it is somewhat far down the tunnel.
Where exactly is this astor place spur you speak of terry?
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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by Terry Kennedy » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:56 am

OportRailfan wrote:Where exactly is this astor place spur you speak of terry?
At 9th St, at the east end of the station. The main line turns north, while the Astor Place spur turns to the east:

Image

The tunnel toward Astor is visible just as the train turns north - look for a chain-link fence with a lot of signal and power cases behind it on the right-hand side. There isn't much to see of this on the New Jersey-bound side - there's a cut in the wall but nothing much behind it.

If this had been completed, it would have been the only at-grade crossing of an unrelated track, as the line from Astor Place crossed over the 33rd St.-bound track (with no switches) to get to the New Jersey-bound track.

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Re: What if H&M ran to GCT?

Post by OportRailfan » Fri Apr 10, 2009 11:33 am

interesting, i have always noticed all the power/signals/pad transformers sitting on that curve. I'll take a good look next time I'm headed that way. Thanks much!
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